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Researchers unveil wrong diabetes diagnoses

By Editor
3rd May 2019
Research, South West Type 1 diabetes Type 2 diabetes

More than a third of people over the age of 30 who are initially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes actually have type 1, according to a new study.

A team from the University of Exeter Medical School say the findings of the trial mean many people are not receiving the correct treatment for their condition.

Lead researcher Dr Angus Jones, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “For people with type 1 diabetes, taking tablets and losing weight are not effective – they need insulin treatment. It is very difficult to diagnose type 1 diabetes in older adults, as most people of this age will have type 2, even if they are thin.

“Our research shows that if a person diagnosed as type 2 diabetes needs insulin treatment within three years of diabetes diagnosis, they have a high chance of missed type 1 diabetes.Therefore they need a blood test to confirm what type of diabetes they have, to ensure they receive the right monitoring, education and treatment.”

The study involved analysing 583 people who had insulin-treated diabetes that had been diagnosed after the age of 30. The characteristics of their disease were compared with other participants who still produced some insulin, as well as with 220 individuals with severe insulin deficiency that was diagnosed before the age of 30.

First author Dr Nick Thomas, also from the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “While people with type 2 diabetes may eventually need insulin, their treatment and education is very different from type 1. If people with type 1 diabetes don’t receive insulin they can develop very high blood glucose, and may develop a life threatening condition called ketoacidosis. This means having the right diagnosis is vitally important even if insulin treatment has already been started. ”

The research, funded by NIHR and the Wellcome Trust, has been published in the journal Diabetologia.

To read the study in full, click here.

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