LONDON, August 13 /PRNewswire/ --

- Survey Sheds Light on Patients' Concerns About Life-Threatening Complications

As the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes continues to rise significantly, with over 125,000 new cases diagnosed a year(1), new survey results show that those affected are now realising the wider implications of the condition and the fear associated with its complications. While people increasingly recognise that the condition is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as a poor diet and lack of physical activity, the results highlight that it is not just those already diagnosed who could be affected, but that loved ones could also be impacted by the complications.

According to results from a survey(2) of over 2,500 people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, conducted by Diabetes UK and sponsored by Merck Sharp and Dohme Limited, it was revealed that:

- eight out of ten people surveyed are either very concerned or fairly concerned about having a heart attack, stroke or nerve damage - almost 50 per cent said they were very concerned or fairly concerned about experiencing hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose), with nearly a third having experienced it - almost a quarter have experienced sexual dysfunction - almost one in ten respondents stated they have suffered eye damage - 8 per cent of people surveyed have cardiovascular disease

Dr Marc Evans, Consultant Diabetologist, Cardiff, said: These results illustrate the everyday challenge facing those living with Type 2 diabetes. If not managed correctly, this condition has wide reaching, long-term implications. As part of the effort to control blood glucose levels which could potentially reduce the risk of complications, people also face the challenge of ensuring their glucose levels don't drop too low, causing hypoglycaemia. This can be a very frightening experience for patients who become unwell, feeling disorientated or dizzy. Unfortunately however, this may go unreported to their GP through fear of the impact it may have on things like insurance, driving licence or their job.

In addition to highlighting the other serious complications, the survey also revealed the issues that impact on everyday life, which may also affect loved ones. Nearly a quarter of the respondents (both men and women) reported having suffered sexual dysfunction. The considerable impact of this complication was clearly highlighted in a comment from one respondent who stated: I haven't had any form of sex life with my husband for over two years; which coincides with my taking my meds. My doctor's response is that I obviously do not love my husband any more! I am so angry that female sexual dysfunction is not acknowledged and more help given.

Type 2 diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, weight loss where appropriate and increased physical activity. Blood glucose lowering medication may also be required to achieve normal blood glucose levels, which are essential in protecting against long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries. However, 20 per cent of those surveyed were not aware of what their target blood glucose levels should be, and almost 40 per cent of respondents were not aware of what HbA1c levels were - a long-term measure of how well blood glucose is controlled.

Diabetes UK Care Advisor Caroline Butler said: It's essential that everyone with diabetes works in partnership with their healthcare team to help manage their condition effectively.

This means it's crucial they are able to access the information and support they need with ease so that they can manage their condition effectively, and thereby reduce the risk of developing devastating complications.

Notes to Editors

About the Diabetes Experience Survey

The Diabetes Experience Survey was run online via the Diabetes UK website, between 12 November and 3 December 2008, with adults aged over 18 who were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. 2,504 valid responses were received. Responses from the survey are outlined below:

How concerned or unconcerned are you currently about experiencing complications?2

Do you have any of the following complications?2

Very Fairly Neither Fairly Very Don't Have concerned concerned concerned uncon uncon know compli- nor -cerned -cerned cation/ % % unconcerned % % % experienced % % Base: 2,504 Cardiovascular disease (e.g. heart attack or stroke) Base: 2,482 48 37 9 5 1 1 8 Nerve damage (neuropathy) Base: 2,445 45 36 12 5 1 1 14 Damage to the seeing part of the eye (retinopathy) Base: 2,471 58 30 7 4 1 1 9 Amputation Base: 2,438 47 26 15 8 3 1 1 Kidney damage (nephropathy) Base: 2,454 35 29 23 7 5 1 3 Sexual dysfunction (can be experienced by men or women) Base: 2,434 48 32 12 6 1 1 24 How concerned or unconcerned Episodes: are you 16 33 24 15 6 7 Yes 28 currently No 58 about Don't know experiencing 14 hypoglycaemia? Base: 2,503 Base: 2,500

About Diabetes

Diabetes is a common life-long condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high as the body cannot use it properly. This is because the pancreas does not produce any or not enough insulin or the insulin that is produced doesn't work properly (known as insulin resistance). Insulin helps glucose enter the body's cells, where it is used for energy.

Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate from various kinds of food and drink, including starchy foods such as breads, rice and potatoes, fruit, some dairy products, sugar and other sweet foods. Glucose is also produced by the liver.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin. Usually it appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood. It is treated with insulin either by injection or pump, a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the insulin that is produced doesn't work properly. Usually it appears in people aged over 40, though in South Asian and Black people it can appear from the age of 25. It is becoming more common in children and young people of all ethnicities.

Type 2 diabetes is treated with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, but medication and/or insulin is often required. The main symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include passing urine frequently (especially at night), increased thirst, extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, slow healing of wounds and blurred vision.

The main aim of diabetes treatment is to achieve blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat levels (including cholesterol) within the target ranges agreed by you and your healthcare team. This, together with a healthy lifestyle, will reduce the risk of developing the long-term complications of diabetes such as heart attack, stroke, amputation, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage.

About Merck Sharp Dohme Limited

Merck Sharp Dohme Limited (MSD) is the UK subsidiary of Merck Co., Inc., of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, USA, a leading research-based pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of innovative pharmaceutical products to improve human health.


(1) The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) 2006/07 and 2007/08

(2) Merck data on file. Diabetes Experience Survey. Conducted via Diabetes UK website: 12 November - 3 December 2008.

Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK is the leading charity for the three million people in the UK with diabetes. It is our 75th Anniversary in 2009 and events to mark this special occasion will be taking place around the country. We aim to spend more than GBP6 million on research in 2009 as well as campaigning and providing information and support. During our 75th Anniversary year, we hope you will be able to join in and support us so that we can carry on improving the lives of people with diabetes into the future. For more information visit

SOURCE: Diabetes UK SOURCE: Merck Sharp SOURCE: Dohme Limited (MSD)

For further information please contact Huw Beale or Maria Lam in the Diabetes UK Media Relations team on +44(0)207-424-1165 or email For urgent out of hours media enquiries, please call +44(0)7711-176-028.For more information, or access to a case study, please contact: Alison Prentice or Anna Gibbons, Packer Forbes Communications, +44(0)20-8772-1551,,; Louise Barr, Communications Manager, Merck Sharp Dohme Limited +44(0)1992 452126,