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, 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.

Key conclusions from the survey were:

  • 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.

"Many people with diabetes struggle with hypoglycaemia on a regular basis," said lead researcher and health psychologist Dr Meryl Brod. "This not only has an impact on their working lives, but increases the need to self-monitor blood glucose levels. Additionally, the events occurring during sleep are a challenge for people with diabetes."

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.

Maintaining strict glycaemic control has long-term advantages for people with diabetes in reducing complications. Symptoms of a hypoglycaemic event, when the blood sugar becomes too low, often include pounding heart, trembling, hunger, sweating, difficulty concentrating or confusion. People with diabetes, treated with insulin, can experience 1-3 events per month.

The complete study can be found in the July issue of Value in Health and also online. The study was sponsored by Novo Nordisk.

Further information on diabetes:

  • 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.

(Novo Nordisk press release, Health24, June 2011)

Read more:

Diabetes may shorten working life
Diabetes to triple by 2050
Quiz: Am I eating correctly to control my diabetes?

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