Seroquel® and Hyperglycemia

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Recent studies have confirmed a link between Seroquel and the development of certain blood sugar disorders, such as hyperglycemia, diabetes, and diabetic ketoacidosis. Hyperglycemia occurs when there are elevated levels of glucose (blood sugar) in the plasma of the blood. Hyperglycemia is a sign that insulin is not reaching the cells of the body properly, because of either insulin deficiency or insulin resistance. The condition is primarily observed as a symptom of diabetes, but can also be caused by other disorders, excess carbohydrates in the diet, or as a reaction to medication. Six million patients are hospitalized annually with hyperglycemia.

The signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia can vary from patient to patient, with the most common signs being polyphagia (frequent hunger), polydipsia (frequent thirst), and polyuria (frequent urination). Individuals may also experience blurred vision, weight loss, fatigue, dry mouth, recurrent infections, and male impotence. If an individual is hyperglycemic frequently or for long periods of time, damage to nerves, blood vessels, and organs can occur.

The treatment of hyperglycemia usually includes lifestyle changes, insulin supplementation, and oral medication. The administration of insulin is the primary treatment, making immediate medical intervention highly advisable if the patient suspects that they are suffering from hyperglycemia. The condition is considered serious and can be the cause of many major complications if left untreated. A severe complication from untreated cases of hyperglycemia is diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical assistance. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include confusion, a decreased level of consciousness, increased feelings of sadness of anxiety, shortness of breath, nausea, and/or dehydration. Severe cases of diabetic ketoacidosis can cause a diabetic coma and/or death.

The connection between Seroquel usage and the higher risk of developing a blood sugar disorder was discovered in 2003, prompting the FDA to ask the manufacturer to include information about the increased risk on the warning label of the medication. Seroquel was named as one of six anti-psychotic medications linked to an increased risk of high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. Clinical assessments had found that the patients on Seroquel were 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than patients taking anti-psychotic medications that had been on the market longer. Information was forwarded to the healthcare community warning of the increased risks and advising doctors to carefully monitor any patient taking Seroquel for warning signs that they were developing diabetes. The FDA determined that the risks of using Seroquel did not outweigh the benefits of the medication and decided that a recall of Seroquel was not necessary. Healthcare professionals are advised to review the risks and benefits of the medication prior to prescribing it to new patients.

More Seroquel Information

Seroquel, generically known as Quetiapine, is a prescription medication manufactured and marketed by leading pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Belonging to the “atypical anti-psychotics” category, Seroquel gained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August of 1997 and was released to the public later that year. Seroquel is approved for use in the treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and is known to be prescribed “off-label” to assist in the treatment of restless leg syndrome, autism, sleep disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, and alcoholism.

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