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Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, 01:18 GMT
Diabetics avoiding medicine 'risk health'
Blood glucose tester
Blood glucose testing is vital for diabetics
Diabetics are risking blindness, heart disease and kidney failure by failing to take their medication, a charity has warned.

A survey by the British Diabetes Association found two-thirds of people prescribed tablets to control the condition are not taking them.

The charity said the findings were "alarming" and warned of "serious implications" for patients.

Researchers at the University of Dundee used a database - the only one of its kind available in the UK - to track how many people collect medication prescribed by their doctor.

Only one third of patients prescribed one type of tablet collected their medicine as recommended.

Figures for people on combination treatment with two types of tablet were even worse - just one in 10 collected their prescriptions as recommended.

Type two diabetes is the most common form of the condition affecting over one million people in the UK. People affected gradually lose the ability to control their blood glucose levels by diet alone.

Amputation

Diabetes is the second biggest cause of lower limb amputation, other than trauma and type two diabetes is the single biggest cause of blindness among adults of working age in the UK.

"This is an alarming situation as failing to effectively control your diabetes increases the risk of long-term complications such as blindness, heart disease and kidney failure," said Suzanne Lucas, director of care at the BDA

"It is vital that both healthcare professionals and those with diabetes are fully aware of the serious implications of not taking the necessary medication."

The findings showed that people were significantly more likely to stick to once-daily treatment. Things were also better in people on only one type of tablet, in those who had been diagnosed with diabetes more recently, in people on fewer medications and in less socially deprived individuals.

Dr Andrew Morris, senior lecturer in medicine and diabetes at the University of Dundee, led the research to be presented at the annual conference of the BDA.

He said: "For the first time we have results that show what is happening in the real world of day-to-day diabetes management, rather than what happens in clinical trials."

Research has shown that a tight control of blood glucose levels over 10 years decreases the frequency of a range of complications, including a 25% reduction in the risk of problems affecting tiny blood vessels, and a 16% reduction in heart attacks.

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