Glucose and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes: focus on combination therapy with colesevelam HCl

Drugs Aging. 2012 May 1;29(5):e1-e12. doi: 10.2165/11599290-000000000-00000.


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is high among the elderly population. Treatment of elderly patients with type 2 diabetes presents challenges because of co-morbidities and the potential increase in the risk of adverse effects. Hyperlipidaemia is also common in the elderly population. Glucose- and lipid-lowering treatment in elderly patients should be individualized on the basis of the patient's life expectancy, health status and cardiovascular risk factors, and evidence-based guideline recommendations. Because elderly patients often have impaired renal and hepatic function, careful considerations must be made when selecting appropriate glucose- and lipid-lowering therapy. There are a number of potential safety issues associated with various glucose- and lipid-lowering therapies that are relevant to elderly patients, including increased risk of heart failure exacerbations, weight loss, increased risk of hypoglycaemia, increased risk of myopathy, and contraindications of some agents in patients with hepatic or renal impairment. The bile acid sequestrant colesevelam HCl is unique compared with other glucose- and lipid-lowering therapies because it is the only product approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, as an adjunct to diet and exercise, to lower both glucose and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in adults with type 2 diabetes and primary hyperlipidaemia, respectively. Furthermore, colesevelam has been shown to have similar glucose- and lipid-lowering efficacy in patients aged <65 years and those aged ≥65 years. Colesevelam was not associated with weight gain, was associated with a low incidence of hypoglycaemia, and can be safely combined with a broad range of glucose-lowering agents (metformin, sulfonylureas and insulin) and lipid-lowering statins. Currently, colesevelam is available in tablet form and as a powder for oral suspension formulation; the latter may be of benefit to elderly patients with swallowing difficulties. As colesevelam has both glucose- and lipid-lowering effects, its use may reduce the drug burden in elderly patients receiving multiple agents for glucose and lipid lowering. Colesevelam may be a valuable treatment option as an add-on to existing glucose- and/or lipid-lowering therapy to help improve haemoglobin A(1c) and to lower LDL-C levels in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes and primary hyperlipidaemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Allylamine / administration & dosage
  • Allylamine / adverse effects
  • Allylamine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Allylamine / therapeutic use
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / adverse effects
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Colesevelam Hydrochloride
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / complications
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy
  • Hyperlipidemias / epidemiology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Medication Adherence


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Allylamine
  • Colesevelam Hydrochloride