Number of deaths from type 2 diabetes in England more than DOUBLED at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, study finds
- Researchers also concluded that diagnoses dropped by 70 per cent in April
- As many as 3,050 people with type 2 diabetes died in April, up from 1,450
- Early coronavirus restrictions and online GP appointments may have caused rise
The number of deaths from type 2 diabetes in England more than doubled at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in April, a study has revealed.
Around 3,050 people died from the preventable condition — a figure that is 110 per cent higher than the 1,450 who were expected to die based on the 10-year average.
The researchers also concluded diagnoses of the illness — which can be deadly if left untreated — dropped 70 per cent in the same month.
Early Covid lockdown restrictions advised everyone to ‘stay home’, meaning tens of thousands of patients missed out on GP appointments.
The Manchester University study is the latest example of the crippling impact Covid-19 has had on those not suffering from the virus.
Around 5 to 6 per cent of British adults are diabetic, either with type 1 — when the body cannot produce insulin — or type 2 — when the body struggles to absorb sugar from the blood because of repeatedly high levels.
Around 90 per cent, or 3.8million, of these people are type 2, which is mainly caused by obesity and can be reversed. The condition can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
There were more than double the number of deaths from diabetics as were expected at this time of year in April, a study has found (stock image)
WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition which causes a person’s blood sugar to get too high.
More than 4million people in the UK are thought to have some form of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and you may be more likely to get it if it’s in the family.
The condition means the body does not react properly to insulin – the hormone which controls absorption of sugar into the blood – and cannot properly regulate sugar glucose levels in the blood.
Excess fat in the liver increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as the buildup makes it harder to control glucose levels, and also makes the body more resistant to insulin.
Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and getting symptoms under control.
Symptoms include tiredness, feeling thirsty, and frequent urination.
It can lead to more serious problems with nerves, vision and the heart.
Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but more serious cases may require medication.
Source: NHS Choices; Diabetes.co.uk
The Manchester study, which has not yet been published in a journal, was based on data from 13million people between March and July.
Type 2 diabetes death rates, as well as the rate of diagnosis, didn’t rise as much in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the authors said.
In early March 2020, GPs were advised to minimise the number of face-to-face contacts they had with their patients, including NHS health-checks.
The study suggests that this reduction of clinical services has led to major reductions in the diagnosis and monitoring.
Over the study period, the researchers estimate there were more than 45,000 missed or delayed diagnoses for type 2 diabetes across the UK.
The team say further research is required to understand how other factors such as ethnicity, population density and deprivation might explain the differences in mortality rate across UK nations.
National charity Diabetes UK said the results are ‘shocking’.
Study co-author Professor Martin Rutter said: ‘Healthcare services will need to manage this backlog of work and the expected increase in the severity of diabetes brought about by delayed diagnoses.’
Dr Matthew Carr, lead author for the study said: ‘The high rate of COVID-19 infection since August and the second national lockdown makes our results intensely relevant.’
Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, said: ‘These shocking results highlight the urgent need to ensure that those identified by their GP as being at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes receive their annual screening for diabetes.
‘In addition, while the challenges caused by the pandemic persist, if we are to ensure that people living with type 2 diabetes don’t miss out on annual health checks and HbA1C tests, it is vital that those who need an appointment are offered one.’
Co-author Dr Alison Wright added: ‘This second national lockdown could have devastating consequences on the care of people with diabetes without effective planning.’
The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, a partnership between The University of Manchester and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.