Type 2 diabetes patients have trouble controlling their condition after three years: study

A study has found that patients with Type 2 diabetes tend to have trouble managing their condition after three years.
A study has found that patients with Type 2 diabetes tend to have trouble managing their condition after three years.PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

SINGAPORE - While newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetics manage their conditions well at first, this effect tends to taper off after three years, a study has found.

Dr Tan Ngiap Chuan, director of the research department at SingHealth Polyclinics, believes this could be because many people here are not yet used to the idea of taking insulin on a regular basis.

Typically, Type 2 diabetics rely on medication to keep their condition in check. However, many eventually reach a point where medication is no longer helpful, and insulin is needed.

"People already have preconceived ideas about insulin therapy," Dr Tan said. "Patients feel that if you start them on insulin, it's the end of their lives, when insulin is actually part and parcel of diabetic treatment."

The five-year-long project studied how well some 1,256 polyclinic patients controlled their conditions by looking at the amount of glucose in their red blood cells - a measure known as HbA1c.

A non-diabetic's HbA1c is usually between 5 to 6 per cent, while a diabetic's can go up to more than 10 per cent.

While this may not sound like much, a 1 percentage point increase can translate to a 38 per cent increased chance of a stroke or heart attack.

In the study, Dr Tan also found that those of Malay or Indian ethnicity ran a higher risk of having poor diabetic control.

While this is not surprising, he said "it means that we have yet to come up with anything that is efficient in helping them to control their diabetes".