Although a defect in mitochondrial function is associated with extremes of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle (30), this does not appear to be relevant to the etiology of type 2 diabetes. No defect is present in early type 2 diabetes but rather is directly related to ambient plasma glucose concentration (31). Observed rates of mitochondrial ATP production can be modified by increasing or decreasing plasma fatty acid concentration (32,33). Additionally, the onset of insulin stimulation of mitochondrial ATP synthesis is slow, gradually increasing over 2 h, and quite distinct from the acute onset of insulin’s metabolic effects (34). Although it remains possible that secondary mitochondrial effects of hyperglycemia and excess fatty acids exist, there is no evidence for a primary mitochondrial defect underlying type 2 diabetes.
Currently, one goal for diabetics is to avoid or minimize chronic diabetic complications, as well as to avoid acute problems of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Adequate control of diabetes leads to lower risk of complications associated with unmonitored diabetes including kidney failure (requiring dialysis or transplant), blindness, heart disease and limb amputation. The most prevalent form of medication is hypoglycemic treatment through either oral hypoglycemics and/or insulin therapy. There is emerging evidence that full-blown diabetes mellitus type 2 can be evaded in those with only mildly impaired glucose tolerance.
Type 2 diabetes is almost always reversible and this is almost ridiculously easy to prove. This is great news for the more than 50% of American adults who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. Recognizing this truth is the crucial first step in reversing your diabetes or pre-diabetes. Actually, it something that most people already instinctively recognized to be true.
Aside from the financial costs of diabetes, the more frightening findings are the complications and co-existing conditions. In 2014, 7.2 million hospital discharges were reported with diabetes as a listed diagnosis. Patients with diabetes were treated for major cardiovascular diseases, ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower-extremity amputation and diabetic ketoacidosis.
Prolonged and elevated levels of glucose in the blood, which is left unchecked and untreated, will, over time, result in serious diabetic complications in those susceptible and sometimes even death. There is currently no way of testing for susceptibility to complications. Diabetics are therefore recommended to check their blood sugar levels either daily or every few days. There is also diabetes management software available from blood testing manufacturers which can display results and trends over time. Type 1 diabetics normally check more often, due to insulin therapy.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.