NOVEMBER 01, 2007

Risk of Death from Pneumonia Higher with Diabetes

Patients with diabetes or elevated blood sugar face greater odds of dying after being hospitalized for pneumonia, according to a study of nearly 30,000 adults with a firsttime hospitalization for pneumonia between 1997 and 2004.

The researchers found that mortality rates at both 30 and 90 days after hospitalization were higher in patients with diabetes, compared with patients without diabetes (20% vs 15% and 27% vs 22%, respectively). On admission to the hospital, the study indicated that a high blood sugar level increased the risk of death by 46% in patients with diabetes and by 91% in patients with undiagnosed diabetes. Reporting in Diabetes Care (September 2007), the researchers concluded that, in patients with pneumonia, much of the elevated illness and death seen with diabetes is mediated through the presence of high blood sugar.

Diabetes Care Too Much for Some Patients

Reporting in the October 2007 issue of Diabetes Care, researchers found that patients with diabetes viewed adhering to their daily regimen just as burdensome as diabetes-related health complications.

Some patients said the discomfort of having to take multiple medications daily, carefully monitoring their diet, and getting the required amounts of exercise had significantly impacted their quality of life. Of the 700 patients, 12% to 50% said they would be willing to give up 8 of 10 years of life in perfect health to avoid a life with diabetes complications. Yet, between 10% and 18% of patients reported they were willing to sacrifice 8 of 10 years of healthy life to avoid life with treatments.

The findings showed "that we need to find better, more convenient ways to treat chronic illness," commented lead author Elbert Huang, MD.

Initiative Highlights Diabetes and CVD Connection

The national campaign Control Your Diabetes. For Life. will reach out through a network of 200 partners to health care professionals and their patients to emphasize the importance of comprehensive control of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Patients with diabetes face an increased risk of CVD.

The free educational materials include 4 Steps to Control Your Diabetes. For Life., a brochure to help diabetes patients manage their disease; Take Care of Your Heart. Manage Your Diabetes, a tip sheet about the link between diabetes and heart disease with tips on how to manage the ABCs of diabetes; Guiding Principles for Diabetes Care, a guide to help health care professionals learn more about the essential components of diabetes care; and Diabetes Numbers At-a-Glance, a laminated pocket guide with a list of current recommendations for clinicians to diagnose and manage diabetes.

The National Diabetes Education Program launched the initiative with sponsorship by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, visit www.ndep.nih.gov.

Take a Breath

Researchers may have found an alternate test to replace finger-stick testing in patients with type 1 diabetes. Because children exhale higher levels of the chemical methyl nitrates when their blood sugar is too high, the researchers suggested a simple breath test.

University of California researcher Pietro Galassetti, MD, PhD, said that patients with type 1 diabetes have to monitor their blood sugar levels frequently using devices that prick the skin to extract a small amount of blood. "It's invasive. It's painful, and it can be expensive," he said. "What we are trying to do here is to come up with something completely noninvasive."

He said it may be possible to develop a breath analysis test to screen blood sugar, according to the study findings reported in the September 25, 2007, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Experts Tell Patients: Get Regular Eye Exams

Patients with diabetes are more likely to have their vision checked if they have access to health care and information about the importance of screenings, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (October 2007).

Researchers analyzed data from 48 studies focused on the efforts to raise awareness among patients with diabetes. The analysis showed that increasing patient and provider awareness of diabetic retinopathy, improving access to health care, and collaboration among local organizations that provide retinal screening were effective interventions.

The American Diabetic Association urges patients with diabetes to have their vision checked with dilation every year. Recent data indicate, however, that only 47% do.

F A S T   F A C T : Heart disease and stroke account for about 65% of deaths in individuals with diabetes.