Patients lack proper hypoglycemia management, prevention knowledge

Patients lack proper hypoglycemia management, prevention knowledge
Patients lack proper hypoglycemia management, prevention knowledge

An online survey showed that many patients with diabetes are concerned about experiencing hypoglycemia but are unsure of how to prevent and manage the condition, according to a press release from the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Results from the survey, which polled more than 1,000 adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, indicated that 60% of respondents have experienced hypoglycemia, with 19% having visited an emergency room for treatment.

Furthermore, 62% expressed serious concern about experiencing hypoglycemia, and 81% perceived it as a “significant health concern.” Ninety-eight percent reported understanding the importance of controlling the condition, and 81% acknowledged the health consequences if not treated appropriately.

Data also indicated that 40% experienced nighttime hypoglycemia, with 84% feeling anxiety, 68% feeling frustration and 60% feeling fear about the significant drop in blood sugar during the night.

In addition to showing patients' concern about hypoglycemia, the survey revealed a lack of knowledge about the condition. For instance, about 42% of those who had not experienced hypoglycemia could not accurately define the condition; 30% reported that avoiding alcohol could prevent hypoglycemia; and 49% did not know that taking glucose tablets can help treat an episode.

Treatment recommendations for those experiencing a hypoglycemic episode include consuming 15 g to 20 g of carbohydrates if blood sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dL. Patients should then check their levels after 15 minutes and should repeat the process if blood sugar levels remain low. After levels stabilize, a small snack should be eaten if the next planned meal or snack is more than 1 or 2 hours away.

“Hypoglycemia can be a potentially debilitating -- but often underrecognized -- complication for people living with diabetes,” Evan Sisson, PharmD, MHA, CDE, Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, said in the release.

“By consistently monitoring one's blood sugar and working with a diabetes educator, individuals can effectively manage their diabetes and hope to reduce their risk of hypoglycemia.”

The survey, which was partially supported by Sanofi U.S., was completed between Sept. 23, 2014, and Oct. 1, 2014.

For more information about the survey results and hypoglycemia, visit www.diabeteseducator.org.

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