Thousands of undetected type 2 diabetes case could be identified if A&E staff introduce type 2 diabetes screening into their routine checks, a new study indicates.

Currently, more than four million people are living with type 2 diabetes in the UK. However, reports show that a further 850,000 individuals are living with the condition but are yet to be diagnosed.

Academics from the NHS detected 120 undiagnosed type 2 diabetes cases when they trialled an ‘opportunistic’ blood test on 1,388 people at the A&E department at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Hamburg, the findings also show that 30% of the participants had prediabetes.

During the study, the team of researchers used HbA1c tests to screen A&E patients for type 2 diabetes.

Lead author Professor Edward Jude said: “Early diagnosis is the best way to avoid the devastating complications of type 2 diabetes and offers the best chance of living a long and healthy life.

“Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be absent and can be tricky to spot in the early stages. The condition can go undetected for up to ten years, which can lead to long-term complications such as heart disease, nerve damage and retinopathy.”

According to the researchers, A&E departments could detect tens of thousands of new cases of pre-diabetes and diabetes in the UK each year if they regularly carry out HbA1c tests.

Professor Jude noted: “Opportunistic HbA1c-based screening in A&E departments, particularly those in high-risk and hard-to-reach groups, could make an important contribution to identifying undiagnosed individuals who will benefit from early treatment and lifestyle changes and so reduce their risks of long-term complications.”

People with type 2 are more at risk of developing kidney complications and cancer, the study has reported.

In addition, individuals with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack and stroke compared to those without the condition, according to the research findings.

Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio from Cambridge said: “Type 2 diabetes used to be seen as a disease that affected older adults. But we’re increasingly seeing people diagnosed earlier in life.

“As we’ve shown, this means they are at risk of a much shorter life expectancy than they would otherwise have.”

The study was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Type 2 diabetes found to be a ‘significant risk factor’ among stroke victims

More evidence has been published which supports that diabetes is a “significant…

Conversation about doctors’ appointments occurring virtually rumbles on

More than half of GP appointments are still being delivered remotely in…

Top diabetes professor drafts risk assessment document for frontline COVID-19 staff

The health and wellbeing of frontline NHS staff has been prioritised among…