SGLT-2 inhibitors are a type of medication that people with type 2 diabetes can use to lower blood sugar levels.
How do SGLT-2 inhibitors lower blood sugar?
As our kidneys filter our blood, they also reabsorb glucose. SGLT-2 inhibitor drugs block the process of reabsorbing glucose back into our blood, causing glucose to be excreted through urine. Since extra glucose leaves the body instead of returning to the bloodstream, SGLT-2 inhibitors can lower the amount of sugar in the blood and, as a result, they can also lower A1C levels.
Who uses SGLT-2 inhibitors?
SGLT-2 inhibitors are currently only approved for people with type 2 diabetes. SGLT-2s are especially useful for helping people with other diabetes-related health conditions, such as heart disease, heart failure, and kidney disease. Research is ongoing to evaluate the use of SGLT-2s for those with type 1 diabetes. Some healthcare professionals may prescribe SGLT-2s off-label to people with type 1 diabetes.
What are the benefits?
SGLT-2s are highly effective at lowering blood glucose and A1C levels.
SGLT-2s are taken orally (as pills), so they don’t need to be injected.
Some people who use SGLT-2s may experience a reduction in blood pressure and weight loss.
All SGLT-2s currently approved in the US also protect against heart failure.
Three brands of SGLT-2s – Invokana, Farxiga, and Jardiance – have been shown to slow the progression of kidney disease.
SGLT-2s have a relatively low risk of hypoglycemia.
What are the drawbacks?
Use of SGLT-2s can result in more frequent urination.
Increased glucose in the urinary tract can increase the risk of genital fungal infections, especially for women.
SGLT-2s are a newer therapy and can be more expensive than more conventional type 2 diabetes drugs, such as sulfonylureas and metformin.
Using SGLT-2s in type 1 diabetes increases the risk – and decreases the ability to diagnose – of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a dangerous complication that can become life-threatening if untreated.
Approved SGLT-2 drugs:
Chronic Kidney Disease and Heart Protection
SGLT-2s for Type 1 Diabetes
Last updated: June 22, 2021