There have been several studies documenting the effects of metformin for type 2 diabetes. In these studies, the drug has been shown to decrease fasting blood sugar and to decrease hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). HbA1c is a test used to measure long-term blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Normal HbA1c levels are usually less than 6 percent in people without diabetes; people with diabetes usually have higher HbA1c results.
Studies have shown that the higher the HbA1c, the greater the chance for developing long-term problems related to diabetes. This includes such problems as heart disease, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, and diabetic nephropathy. By getting blood sugar levels under control with metformin, it may be possible to decrease the chances for developing these diabetes complications.
Some studies also suggest that taking the drug may lead to weight loss (see Metformin and Weight Loss).
(Click Benefits of Metformin for more specific information on the beneficial effects of the medication.)
Some general considerations for when and how to take the medication include:
- Metformin tablets should be taken by mouth, usually one to three times daily. The long-acting form, metformin ER, should be taken once daily with your evening meal.
- The medication should be taken with food to reduce stomach upset.
- The long-acting form (metformin ER) should be swallowed whole and should not be broken or crushed.
- It should be taken at the same time(s) each day to maintain an even level of the drug in your blood.
- For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. It will not work if you stop taking it.