Skipping diabetes checks ‘can double death risk’

13th July 2017 – People with diabetes who skip their annual checks could be doubling their risk of dying prematurely, according to data published by NHS Digital.

Diabetes UK says it underlines the importance for patients to ensure they have at least the 9 potentially life-saving checks recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The charity says more needs to be done by government and healthcare providers to ensure people with diabetes can access tests no matter what their age or where they live.

The National Diabetes Audit 2015-2016 examined the links between 3 of the annual diabetes health checks and mortality rates.

Essential health checks

For all age groups, the death rate was higher for those who had not had their blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure checked annually for the previous 7 years.

This risk was more than twice as high for all 5 age groups between 35 to 39 and 70 to 74.

The audit also examined the extent to which people with diabetes are at a higher risk of dying when compared to the rest of the population.

For people with type 1 diabetes, the additional risk was 127.8% higher. For those with type 2 diabetes, the extra risk was 28.4% higher, it found.

Among 102,010 people with diabetes who died in 2015, 33.4% died from vascular disease such as coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke. In the general population, vascular disease caused 28.5% of deaths in the same year.

Shot of a worried young woman trying to fall asleep

‘Devastating complications’

Robin Hewings, head of policy at Diabetes UK, says in a statement: “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 £10 billion 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.”

The 9 health checks recommended by NICE are:

  1. Blood sugar level measurement ( HbA1c blood test)
  2. Blood pressure measurement
  3. Cholesterol levels
  4. Eye check (retinal screening)
  5. Foot and leg check
  6. A urine test for kidney function
  7. A blood test for kidney function
  8. Weight check
  9. Smoking status check