oral hypoglycemic agent
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oral hypoglycemic agentAbbreviation: OHA.
Any drug taken by mouth that lowers or maintains blood glucose (as opposed to insulin, a drug taken parenterally to control blood sugar). In addition to diet and exercise regimens, OHAs are typically used to control blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Commonly used oral agents for diabetes include metformin (a biguanide), sulfonylureas (such as glyburide), alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (acarbose), and thiazolidinediones (pioglitazone). Used appropriately, OHAs lower hemoglobin A1c levels by about 0.5 to 1.5%.See: table
|Class of Drug||Activity||Adverse Features||Approximate Cost|
|Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, e.g., acarbose||Delay absorption of glucose from intestinal tract||Flatulence and other abdominal side effects||Expensive|
|Biguanides, e.g., metformin||Improve sensitivity to insulin; decrease glucose production by the liver||Less weight gain than with other agents; avoid in patients with renal failure||Very expensive|
|Sulfonylureas, 1st generation, e.g., tolazamide||Cause beta cells to release insulin||Resistance to drug may develop over time||Inexpensive|
|Sulfonylureas, 2nd generation, e.g., glipizide, glyburide, others||Same as 1st generation; also increase sensitivity to insulin||Same as 1st generation||Moderately expensive|
|Thiazolidinediones, e.g., pioglitazone||Improve sensitivity to insulin; improve lipid profile||Monthly monitoring of liver functions needed for some drugs in this class due to risk of toxicity. Heart failure and other heart diseases.||Very expensive|
See also: agent
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