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Poor diabetes control leads to increased serious infections

Poor diabetes control leads to an increase in serious infections such as pneumonia, and could mean an increased risk of death…

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A study has shown that diabetes patients with poor control of their blood sugar faced the highest risks of hospitalisation and death due to infections.

Researchers at St Georges, University of London analysed the electronic hospital and GP records of over 85,000 English adults from the age of 40 to 89 who had been diagnosed with diabetes and had a measurement of glycated haemoglobin, or long-term blood sugar, which is a marker showing control of diabetes.

The team compared three groups; those with poor control of their diabetes, those with good control and those without diabetes. 

They found that particularly for bacterial infections, but also for other infections, the risk of having the condition rose for those with poor diabetes control. 

Professor Julia Critchley, of the Population Health Research Institute, at St George’s, University of London, said: “Diabetes patients with the worst control were almost three times as likely to need hospital treatment for an infection compared to those with good control. This was especially high for people with type 1 diabetes and very poor control, who had about 8.5 times higher risk of needing such treatment compared to those without diabetes.

“Across England as a whole, we found that poor diabetes control accounted for about 20-46% of some of the most serious types of infections (sepsis, bone and joint infections, tuberculosis, and endocarditis) seen in diabetes patients.”

The team also found that poor diabetes control accounted for around 15 percent of pneumonia infections and 16 percent of all deaths related to infections. 

“Pneumonia is very common and often causes death in older people, and we demonstrated a clear link to blood sugar control,” said Prof Critchley.

The team mentioned that due to the large size of the study, they could show that it is rare but serious infections that are increased the most with poor diabetes control, showing heightened risks for people with poor control of type 1 diabetes.

The study is published in the journal Diabetes Care.

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