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Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the pancreas produces too little insulin, or none at all. However, the body needs insulin, otherwise the energy provided by the sugar (glucose) in food cannot be absorbed from the bloodstream and utilized. The body must first break down the carbohydrates in food into tiny glucose particles in the intestinal tract. Only in this form can they be absorbed into the blood. From there, they are channeled into the cells – and it is in this process that insulin plays an important role. If insulin is absent, or its effect is reduced, the cells cannot absorb enough glucose. As a result, the level of sugar in the blood builds up and remains permanently high – diabetes, or rather diabetes mellitus, develops.

Many unreported cases

A distinction is made between two forms of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the organism is unable to produce its own insulin, so that it has to be supplied from outside. Type 2 diabetes is much more common; about 90 percent of all diabetics in the western industrialized countries suffer from this form. Apart from hereditary predisposition, the main causes are lifestyle, lack of exercise, a high fat diet, and obesity. Some experts regard "pregnancy diabetes" as a separate form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes was long regarded as age-related diabetes. In the meantime, however, more and more children are contracting this metabolic disorder – in some cases without being aware of it. Because the symptoms can be ambiguous, experts estimate that there are many undiagnosed diabetics. Thirst, hunger, loss of weight, and a high urine output can be indications of the disease. However, more certainty can only be gained by determining the glucose content in the urine and the blood.

The consequences of high levels of blood sugar are considerable: blood vessels and nerves are damaged, and in a worst-case scenario this can cause damage to the kidneys and the eyes, foot amputations, and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Beware the first signs: e.g. prediabetes

Prediabetes can be the first stage of type 2 diabetes. This is the case, for example, if glucose tolerance is disturbed, i.e. if there is a delay in channeling glucose from the blood to the cells after meals, thus leading temporarily to high blood-sugar levels.

It is estimated that 50 percent of all people with prediabetes will also develop diabetes within 10 years. At the same time, they have a 34-percent-greater risk of dying of a cardiovascular event than healthy people.

It is therefore important to also take prediabetes seriously – and to have it treated.

Slowing down digestion

One way of combating type 2 diabetes and prediabetes begins in the intestine, where the carbohydrates from food are broken down into glucose. The enzyme alpha-glucosidase plays an essential role here.

The aim of Bayer's therapeutic approach is to inhibit this enzyme, thus slowing down the process of carbohydrate breakdown The result is that the amount of glucose formed out of the ingested food is passed on to the blood over a longer period of time. As a result, the blood-sugar concentration remains at a lower overall level. The active ingredient has been used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes for many years. Studies have shown in the meantime that it can prevent the development of diabetes in people with prediabetes.

Advice for patients

Each body reacts differently to medicines. Therefore it is impossible to tell which medicine works best for you. Please consult your physician.