Insulin initiation and intensification in patients with T2DM for the primary care physician

Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2011;4:253-61. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S14653. Epub 2011 Jun 28.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is characterized by both insulin resistance and inadequate insulin secretion. All patients with the disease require treatment to achieve and maintain the target glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C) level of 6.5%-7%. Pharmacological management of T2DM typically begins with the introduction of oral medications, and the majority of patients require exogenous insulin therapy at some point in time. Primary care physicians play an essential role in the management of T2DM since they often initiate insulin therapy and intensify regimens over time as needed. Although insulin therapy is prescribed on an individualized basis, treatment usually begins with basal insulin added to a background therapy of oral agents. Prandial insulin injections may be added if glycemic targets are not achieved. Treatments may be intensified over time using patient-friendly titration algorithms. The goal of insulin intensification within the primary care setting is to minimize patients' exposure to chronic hyperglycemia and weight gain, and reduce patients' risk of hypoglycemia, while achieving individualized fasting, postprandial, and A1C targets. Simplified treatment protocols and insulin delivery devices allow physicians to become efficient prescribers of insulin intensification within the primary care arena.

Keywords: basal; bolus; diabetes; insulin analogs; regimens; structured glucose testing.