07 June 2011

1 in 5 diabetics miss work due to low blood sugar

Nearly one in five people with diabetes are regularly unable to attend a full day at work due to disruption caused by episodes of dangerously low blood sugar.

Nearly one in five people with diabetes are regularly unable to attend a full day at work due to disruption caused by episodes of dangerously low blood sugar, known as a hypoglycaemic event. A new survey, focusing on productivity loss following hypoglycaemic events, was published today in the journal Value in Health. The survey was conducted with 1 404 people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who had reported a hypoglycaemic event in the preceding month, in the US, UK, Germany and France.

  • Average loss of workplace productivity, per person, per month, due to a night-time or nocturnal hypoglycaemic event, was 14.7 hours for those missing work. That equated to an estimated dollar value of $2,294 in lost productivity per person, per year.
  • Hypoglycaemic events are prone to happen during the night and one in five persons (22.7%) arrived late for work or missed a full day of work as a result of a nocturnal episode. Events occurring during work hours resulted in 18.3% of people either having to leave work early or miss a full day.

The survey also revealed that patients conducted 5.6 extra blood glucose tests to measure their blood sugar in the next seven days after the event and 24.9% contacted a healthcare professional (either primary care physician, hospital, diabetes clinic, or other healthcare worker) as a result of the event. Among patients using insulin, 25% reported decreasing their insulin dose following the event.

  • In one generation, the prevalence of diabetes has increased six-fold worldwide.  Estimates show that there were some 285 million people with diabetes in 2010, and it is expected to affect 438 million by 2030.
  • More than 50% of people with diabetes are unaware of their condition.
  • Diabetes caused close to 4 million deaths globally, close to 7% of total world mortality in 2010, which is a 5.5% increase on figures for 2007. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death by disease globally.
  • In 2010, global spending on diabetes totalled at least $376 billion and this is predicted to exceed $490 billion by 2030.


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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