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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Actos: Medication for Diabetes

By Ronald S Perkinson

Diabetes is a disease that currently affects about 170 million people. The root of the problem has to do with an imbalance between two hormones, insulin and glucagon. A vast number of processes in the human body operate by achieving a balance between two opposite functions and blood sugar is no exception. Insulin works to raise blood sugar; insulin lowers it. The level of sugar in the blood often contrasts with the amount of sugar in organs such as the muscles or liver, although this is not a hard and fast rule.

Diabetes stems from the fact that the body either does not produce insulin, or does not produce it in sufficient amounts, or the cells of organs that need blood sugar do not respond to insulin. A type I diabetic does not produce insulin at all, and the only way to combat this is to inject insulin at regular intervals.

With a type II diabetic, things are more complicated. The body produces insulin, but in too small of an amount. Furthermore, the body does not respond well to the insulin that his produced. Injecting insulin does not help type II diabetics. Common approaches to dealing with type II diabetes include diet and exercise, which are simple in principle, but difficult in practice.

Because of the difficulty in sticking to a strict diet and exercise regimen, many type II diabetics have sought the use of medication to solve their problem. Pioglitazone, known commonly as Actos, is a common and popular drug used to combat the effects of type II diabetes. It has the ability to reduce insulin resistance in organs such as the liver and muscles and enables the user to live a more normal life. However, Actos is not perfect.

Because Actos works directly on fatty tissue, side effects can appear there. Subcutaneous edema is a possible complication. This manifests itself as a swelling under the skin, throughout the body. While annoying, unsightly and perhaps painful, this condition is probably not life-threatening in most cases. More serious side effects include risk heart failure, which occurs in conjunction with edema. Bladder cancer risk has been seen to increase in people who have taken the drug for a year or more. Although the vast majority of people who have taken Actos have enjoyed an increased quality of life, complications from these side effects have led many to file litigation against Actos and its manufacturer.

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