These diabetes patients have higher risk of injury

A recent study by Australian researchers reveals that people with diabetes who are treated with insulin face a 60% higher risk of being hospitalized for injuries like head and neck trauma and burns compared to the general population.

This alarming finding comes from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

The high risk in people with type 1 diabetes and those with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes is believed to stem from several factors. One key reason is hypoglycemia, where blood sugar levels drop dangerously low, leading to falls.

Additionally, diabetes can cause poor eyesight and neuropathy—a condition where decreased sensation makes individuals unaware they are getting burned.

Frailty and loss of muscle strength are also significant issues for people with diabetes, contributing to the increased risk of injury. These concerns highlight the need for greater attention to injury prevention in diabetes management.

The study’s findings were published in Diabetes Care and presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in Florida by researcher Berhanu Feleke. The study emphasizes the importance of this information for people with diabetes, healthcare professionals, and policymakers.

Led by Professors Jonathan Shaw and Dianna Magliano, the research team suggests that intervention programs should focus on preventing falls and improving muscle strength in insulin-dependent diabetes patients.

This study also underlines the necessity to consider emerging complications of diabetes, such as disability and frailty, beyond the well-known issues of eye, heart, and kidney diseases.

The research analyzed data from diabetes schemes and datasets spanning from 2011 to 2017, involving over 117,000 people with diabetes and more than 3.4 million individuals from the general population who were hospitalized due to injuries.

Key findings include:

  • Falls accounted for 69% of injuries in people with diabetes, and 80% of head and neck injuries were due to falls.
  • Among those with diabetes who suffered burns, 23% were linked to neuropathy.
  • People with type 1 diabetes had a 60% higher risk of hospital admission for an injury compared to the general population.
  • The risk of injury admission was 65% higher for those with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes, whereas it was only 7% higher for those with type 2 diabetes not using insulin.
  • Men with diabetes had a higher rate of hospitalization due to injuries, reflecting an increased risk among men.

Professor Jonathan Shaw explains that hypoglycemia likely contributes to the high rate of falls, with peripheral neuropathy and poor eyesight from diabetic retinopathy also playing roles.

He notes that while many understand that ‘hypos’ can cause falls, the increased risk of serious trauma from these incidents is not widely recognized. Additionally, nearly one in four burn admissions were associated with neuropathy.

Shaw points out that people with type 1 diabetes are at a greater risk of injury because they have lower bone mineral density than those without diabetes. Other studies show that they are more than six times more likely to experience a hip fracture than the general population.

Moreover, individuals with diabetes are 2–3 times more likely to develop sarcopenia, a condition characterized by decreased muscle mass and strength.

Professor Shaw emphasizes the need for awareness among people with diabetes, healthcare professionals, and policymakers about the risks associated with muscle weakness, frailty, and neuropathy. These factors should be considered alongside blood glucose management and vision problems.

He urges that people with diabetes on insulin are at a significantly higher risk of injury. This information should be used to raise awareness, plan preventive strategies, and provide the necessary support and resources to mitigate these risks.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about high vitamin D level linked to lower dementia risk in diabetes, and this eating habit could help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing Paleo diet plus exercise could boost heart health in people with diabetes

The research findings can be found in Diabetes Care.

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