Regular diabetes checks linked to lower mortality risk, national audit finds

The mortality rate for people with diabetes who have regularly attended annual checks over the previous seven years is half that for those who have not, a UK-wide audit reveals.

BP check - regular testing linked to improved mortality for diabetes patients
BP check - regular testing linked to improved mortality for diabetes patients

In an assessment included for the first time in this year's national diabetes audit, researchers chose two cohorts of people with diabetes aged 20 years or over and alive at 31 March 2013.

One group had received blood glucose, BP and serum cholesterol checks annually from 2006/07 to 2012/13 - a total of 21 checks. The second group had received no more than 12 checks in total across the period for these three care processes.

The two groups were then followed up to identify whether they died during 2013/14 or 2014/15, a report on the audit published by NHS Digital says.

Diabetes risk

The researchers found that the death rate during the follow-up period for almost all age groups - for patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes - was around twice as high for those who had received significantly reduced numbers of checks.

Robin Hewings, head of policy at the charity Diabetes UK, said: 'Annual health checks and effective support for self-management mean some of the serious complications of diabetes can be avoided or treated early, enabling people with diabetes to live long, healthy lives.

'It is unacceptable that the risk of early death continues to be so much higher for people with diabetes, a condition that is costing the NHS more than £10bn every year, the majority of which is spent on managing the devastating complications experienced by people with diabetes and their families.

'Complications such as heart attacks, stroke and kidney failure devastate families, and cost billions – yet still people are missing out. Much more needs to be done to ensure people aren’t slipping through the net and missing out on health checks that could literally save their lives.'

Increased mortality

The audit also reveals the extent to which people with diabetes face increased mortality risk compared with the general population.

Risk of death is higher at all ages for men and women with diabetes, with the relative risk highest for young people.

Among people in the 2013/14 audit, patients with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes were 32% more likely to die prematurely than the wider population.

A total of 29.2 per cent of all emergency and non-emergency hospital admissions for cardiovascular conditions were for people with diabetes.

Among 102,010 people with diabetes who died in 2015, 33.4% died from a vascular outcome such as coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Within the general population, a vascular outcome was the cause of 28.5% of all deaths in 2015.

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