A US study survey finds that many adults with diabetes are unaware of their increased risk for certain serious illnesses, such as flu and hepatitis B.
The online survey, sponsored by pharmaceutical company Merck, involved over 1,000 US adults aged 18 and older with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Respondents were twice as likely to identify an increased risk of kidney disease and heart disease, which are common diabetes complications, compared with serious infection diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis or pneumococcal disease, which is the most common cause of lung infection.
“These data illustrate that patients with diabetes are not fully aware of their risk of other serious illnesses, and that there is a critical communication gap between patients and their healthcare providers about the risks for serious illness, including pneumococcal pneumonia or pneumococcal disease, flu and hepatitis B for adults with diabetes,” said Robert E. Ratner, M.D., Chief Scientific &Medical Officer at the American Diabetes Association.
Adults with diabetes are roughly three times more likely to develop pneumococcal disease compared to healthy adults, but only one in three respondents were aware of this.
Less than half of those surveyed had discussed the risk factors for pneumococcal disease and other serious illness with their healthcare provider.
Ratner added that healthcare professionals should initiate discussions with patients to “bridge the information gap” and ensure that risks relating to their diabetes are made clear, enabling greater preventative measures to be taken.
“This lack of awareness is significant – based on the survey, we know that adults with diabetes wish they knew more about certain diseases for which they are at risk, including pneumococcal pneumonia or pneumococcal disease,” said Mel Koh, M.D., MPH, medical director at Merck.

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