Even moderate improvements in blood glucose levels can have major benefits for people with diabetes, according to new research.
The study, known as IMPACT 2, is a collaboration between Sanofi, Diabetes UK and the JDRF. The researchers found that, as well as improving health outcomes, moderate improvements in blood glucose levels could save the NHS £5.5 billion over a 25-year period.
What is IMPACT 2?
IMPACT 2 used data and population modelling to quantify the benefits of moderate blood glucose improvements in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as the potential financial benefits for the NHS.
In people with type 1 diabetes, IMPACT 2 found that small, sustained blood glucose improvements could prevent 880,000 complications, saving £1 billion over 25 years. Regarding type 2, these figures for 870,000 and £4.5 billion.
Moderate improvements, big differences
The study is particularly poignant in light of the recent findings that two-thirds of people with diabetes in England do not achieve the treatment targets of the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Moreover, only 27 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes and 40 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes receive all eight recommended annual health checks.
As a result, a large proportion of people with diabetes develop complications, and it is these complications that incur the biggest cost – both human and financial. 10 per cent of all NHS spending is on diabetes, and the vast majority of that – around 80 per cent – goes on treating complications, but this study suggests that preventing them only requires moderate improvements to blood glucose levels.
“People with type 1 diabetes are routinely still receiving poorer care and are less likely to be meeting NICE recommend blood glucose targets, when compared to people with type 2 diabetes,” said Karen Addingto, Chief Executive of JDRF. “The IMPACT 2 results show the benefit to people living with type 1 diabetes and the NHS in providing appropriate care, support and education to help people manage their condition.”
“The scale of the findings have important implications for clinical practice in the NHS,” said Professor Steve Bai, Professor in Medicine (Diabetes) at the University of Swansea. “In a cost-constrained healthcare system, interventions, medical or otherwise, will always be required to justify any improvement in patient outcome against cost. For the first time clinicians have clear evidence of the reduction in spending that could be conferred by reducing serious diabetes-related complications through better blood glucose control.”
The findings are published in Diabetic Medicine.

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