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'Hidden' illnesses in people with type 2 diabetes

Thursday July 2nd 2020

More than three-quarters of people with type 2 diabetes in England also have at least one physical or mental health condition, a new study has revealed.

Research conducted by the University of Manchester – the first large study in England to compare the patterns of 18 major illnesses between people with and without type 2 diabetes – shows that 77% of type 2 diabetes patients have at least one other physical or mental health condition.

Writing in BMJ Open, the authors describe using data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink GOLD to compare 108,588 people with type 2 diabetes to 528,667 people without, registered in 391 English general practices.

They linked up with hospital electronic health records to examine the annual patterns of 18 physical and mental health conditions in people with and without type 2 diabetes over 11 years.

They showed that some conditions, such as schizophrenia which is 2.4 times more likely to be present when compared to people without diabetes, are underreported in diabetes guidelines.

The researchers also found that people with type 2 diabetes were 1.8 times more likely to have depression compared to those who do not have the condition, and 1.6 times more likely to have asthma and COPD as people without diabetes.

About 52% of the five million UK patients with diabetes are likely to have hypertension, while 18% of people were diagnosed with osteoarthritis, 24% with hyperlipidaemia, 12.4% with depression, and 5.6% with anxiety.

The prevalence of cardiovascular disease was double in people with type 2 diabetes than people without the condition and the association with other illnesses was generally higher in women compared with men: hypothyroidism was nearly four-times higher in women than in men with the condition.

Lead author Dr Salwa Zghebi, presidential research fellow at The University of Manchester, said: “Our findings have important clinical and public health implications in the UK and beyond.

“These comorbidities are associated with a higher number of prescribed medications. So if clinicians were made aware of this vital information, that could help avoid dangerous drug-drug or drug-disease interactions and protect patients’ welfare.

“For example, some diabetes therapies should not be taken by people with kidney disease or heart disease - and this research will alert clinicians to that possibility.”

Zghebi SS, Steinke DT, Rutter MK, et al. Eleven-year multimorbidity burden among 637,255 people with and without type 2 diabetes: a population-based study using primary care and linked hospitalisation data. BMJ Open July 2020; doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-033866

Tags: Diabetes | Heart Health | Mental Health | UK News

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