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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 08:50 GMT
Pain 'prevents diabetics checking health'
Blood glucose tests are carried out by taking blood from the fingertip
Blood glucose tests are carried out by taking blood from the fingertip
A quarter of diabetics put their health at risk by not checking their blood sugar levels as often as they should, a survey has suggested.

The survey was launched on World Diabetes Day, which also saw the announcement of the largest-ever study aimed at preventing type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The Navigator study, run by the drug company Novartis, will run to 2007 and will involve patients in 40 countries.

The charity Diabetes UK said a global explosion in the number of diabetes cases was threatening to reverse the reduction in the number of heart disease related deaths in the west.

Picking up changes in blood glucose levels early reduces the chances of diabetics developing serious complications such as heart disease, kidney disease and eye or nerve damage.


Regular blood glucose monitoring is important for good diabetes control

Simon O'Neil, Diabetes UK
But checking levels involves a painful finger-prick test, which deters many from carrying out the test.

The survey, of 1,330 diabetics, found over half said pain was a issue when testing, particularly for 21-35-year-olds, two-thirds of whom said it was a problem.

Almost half of under-35s reported sore and bleeding fingertips. A quarter had suffered loss of feeling or even temporary loss of use.

Four out of five diabetics have to monitor their glucose levels regularly for at least two years.

And over half are supposed to check between one and five times a day.

The survey was sponsored by the Abbott Laboratories, Medisense Products, the makers of the Soft-Sense meter, also launched on World Diabetes Day, which promises normally pain-free testing.

It allows diabetics to test for glucose levels in areas less sensitive than their fingertips such as the forearm, the fleshy part of the upper arm and the base of the thumb.

Simon O'Neil, head of care developments for the charity Diabetes UK, said: "Regular blood glucose monitoring is important for good diabetes control.

"It can also help prevent diabetes complications from developing."

He added: "We are delighted that meters like Soft-Sense can help make regular blood glucose monitoring easier and pain-free for people with diabetes."

Insulin

There are currently 1.4m people diagnosed with diabetes in Britain.

People with Type two, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, do not make enough insulin, or are unable to make proper use of it.

Without enough insulin, the body cannot move blood sugar into the cells. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream and causes health problems.

Type one diabetes - also known as insulin-dependent or immune-mediated diabetes - is a disease that that destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin.

Insulin is needed to control blood sugar levels. Without it, death is inevitable.

Prevention

The Navigator study will look at whether the long-term administration of the drugs nateglinine (Starlix) and valsartan (Diovan) can reduce or delay the development of type two diabetes and CVD in people with a condition called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

One in seven people over 40 has IGT. Up to 50% will develop type two diabetes within 10 years.

IGT sufferers are also at increased risk of developing CVD.

Scientists think Starlix may be able to reverse the effects of IGT. Diovan may help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those without, and 70% of people with diabetes will die as a result of CVD.

Lead researcher Rury Holman, professor of diabetic medicine at Oxford University, said: "IGT is a silent condition which put unsuspecting people at dual risk, since they may well develop both diabetes and CVD."

See also:

14 Nov 00 | Health
'Wrong test' failing diabetics
24 May 00 | Health
'Wristwatch' to monitor diabetes
08 Oct 99 | Health
Depression a factor in diabetes
30 Jun 00 | Health
'Use earlobes for blood tests'
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