Published on 19 June 2015

Researchers have discovered that many people suffering from type 2 diabetes also suffer from low blood sugar levels that can pose a significant risk to their health.

 The research team from the Leicester Diabetes Centre, reviewed a series of studies into how often hypoglycaemia – low blood sugar – occurs in people with type 2 diabetes.

As part of the study, recently published in the scientific journal PLOS ONEthe team considered both mild cases (when an individual could bring their blood sugar back to normal themselves) and severe cases (when emergency services or family and friends needed the help).

The Leicester Diabetes Centre, a leading Centre in diabetes research and education, is led by Professor Kamlesh Khunti and Professor Melanie Davies from the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals
The study reviewed 532,542 participants and nearly half of them had experienced mild hypoglycaemia, while 6% had experienced severe hypoglycaemia. Those taking part in the study were shown to have experienced 19 mild episodes per year and just less than one severe episode per year.
Hypoglycaemia was particularly common amongst people taking insulin and fairly common for other types of treatment.
Postgraduate researcher at the University of Leicester Chloe Louise Edridge said: “Our results highlight an urgent need for raising awareness amongst patients and healthcare professionals about hypoglycaemia. This study particularly highlights the need for patient education to raise awareness of hypoglycaemia and the consideration of a patient’s hypoglycaemia risk by healthcare professionals when prescribing diabetes treatments.
“We are extremely proud of this large review, which emphasises the importance of hypoglycaemia consideration in people with type 2 diabetes.”
Hypoglycaemia in type 2 diabetes is associated with a considerable cost and burden to health services and is estimated to cost the NHS of £39 million each year.
There can also be substantial consequences for the individual, with an impact on an individual’s quality of life, their employment, social interactions, and driving.
Treatment for type 2 diabetes is also becoming more complicated with the options available continually growing.
Previous reviews have tended to focus on clinical trial data, where the findings may not truly reflect “real world” settings. Knowing how often hypoglycaemia occurs in real world settings is important to help understand its impact, enable planning, prevention and the choice of treatments patients are placed on.
The study, entitled Prevalence and Incidence of hypoglycaemia in 532,542 people with type 2 diabetes on oral therapies and insulin: a systematic review and meta-analysis of population based studies is available in the scientific journal PLOS ONE and can be read here

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