More than 50 per cent of type 2 diabetes patients in the UK are prescribed heart medication at diagnosis, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge, found that the figure rises to 80 per cent after five years.
Heart disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes, hence the high rates of prescription for heart-protecting medication such as statins and blood pressure medications. Diabetes, being a complex condition, can require a wide range of medications for co-existing conditions. This study examined the impact of this variety of prescriptions, and why prescription rates are so high.
“Despite the increasing number of individuals with screen-detected diabetes, many of whom have comorbidities, there is an absence of knowledge about what the pharmacotherapy burden is at diagnosis in this population, and how it changes in the first five years,” wrote the researchers.
“It is important that this is described so that patients and practitioners are informed about the likely course and burden of treatment.”
The researchers analysed the data of 1,026 adults with screen-detected diabetes to determine the overall medication-related demands of the condition. Data was taken from the ADDITION-UK trial.
Glucose-lowering medications were prescribed for 23 per cent of participants after one year. After five years, that figure rose to 62 per cent. The most common medication prescribed at the time of diagnosis was a heart medication.
The researchers wrote:
“The increased prescription of cardioprotective medication was associated with higher baseline CVD risk, indicating an association between need and care. While this result is promising, it remains unclear if the prescription rates of glycemic and cardioprotective medication in this population with elevated CV risk reflect individualised treatment based on patient-led priorities or a deficit in the application of pharmacological intervention.”
The findings are published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care.

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