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May 2021

People with T2D face 2-year wait for diagnosis

A UK study has revealed that people with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (T2D) wait over 2 years on average for a clinical diagnosis, and being female, having a lower BMI and lower blood glucose levels were associated with delayed diagnosis.

There are around 4.8 million people living with diabetes in the UK – including around 1 million who have undiagnosed T2D. Approximately 90% of people with diabetes have type 2.

Researchers analysed data from 200,000 participants of the UK Biobank who did not have a clinical diagnosis of T2D. When participants enter the UK Biobank study, blood samples are taken and their health is monitored over time.

Among the 200,000 people identified, 1% (2,022) had a reported HbA1c of 48mmol/mol or over, the diagnostic threshold for T2D.

The researchers linked the Biobank data with the individuals’ GP records and found it took an average of 2.3 years following the elevated HbA1c test to receive a clinical diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Almost a quarter of people (23%) had still not received a diagnosis after 5 years of having elevated blood glucose levels.

Researchers found that women were likely to wait longer for a diagnosis, and having a lower HbA1c within the type 2 diabetes range, and/or lower BMI, were associated with a delayed diagnosis.

These findings highlight the importance of annual health checks for those aged 40 years and above, to ensure that any elevated blood sugar levels are detected early on.

Researchers say their results support the need for population-level screening for type 2 diabetes, but added: ‘Unfortunately, screening initiatives such as the NHS Health Check have not been offered or taken up at their normal rate in the past year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.’

Practice Nurse 2021;51(4):8