People who are being medicated for type 2 diabetes but experience no symptoms may not have the disease at all, says Dr. Patrick Sharp, secretary of the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists. A new study conducted by the Royal College of General Practitioners and NHS Diabetes reveals that two percent of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the United Kingdom – or about 50,000 people – didn’t have the condition at all.
“We know people without symptoms are being diagnosed on the basis of just one test,” Dr. Sharp told Lifestyle UK. “We could be medicating people who never go on to develop type 2.”
As in the United States, cases of diabetes in the United Kingdom have risen sharply in recent years. Type 2 diabetes develops when the amount of glucose in the blood becomes too high because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. This can be caused by poor diet, obesity, and age. The most common way to test for the disease is with a finger-prick blood test, but these are not considered to be reliable because blood sugar levels can fluctuate and more than one test is usually needed to confirm the diagnosis.
The tragedy here is that people who do not have type 2 diabetes and do not experience symptoms but are medicated based on one test may be subjecting themselves to potential dangers from the medications. Metformin is the standard drug treatment and has been shown to be fairly well tolerated, but other diabetes medications have not had as positive a track record.
Last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) severely restricted the use of Avandia after studies showed the drug put users at risk for potentially fatal heart attacks. A few months later, the FDA warned diabetes patients that the drug Actos has been linked to bladder cancer.
“GPs now screen for diabetes at an earlier stage,” Dr. Sharp said. “By fishing in shallower waters, testing seemingly healthy patients, more borderline results are likely to be turned up and some may be wrongly prescribed.”
AVANDIA is a registered trademark of GlaxoSmithKline.
ACTOS is a trademark of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and used under license by Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.
Source: Lifestyle UK