National survey reveals disconnect between what Type 2 diabetes patients
believe and what doctors are telling them
TORONTO, Aug. 28, 2012 /CNW/ - Warnings about the severity of some
complications associated with Type 2 diabetes may not be getting
through to Canada's diabetes patients, according to findings from a
While heart disease and declining kidney function top the list of Type 2
diabetes complications that general practitioners say they are most
concerned about (96 per cent and 84 per cent respectively), blindness
and amputation are patients' top worries (60 per cent and 50 per cent
respectively). When asked which body part will be most impacted by Type
2 diabetes, patients selected feet and eyes ahead of major organs like
the heart and kidneys.
"These statistics are quite concerning," says says Dr. Richard Tytus,
family physician and associate clinical professor at McMaster
University in Hamilton, Ontario, who contributed to the design of the
survey. "Patients are underestimating the life-threatening impact of
heart or kidney complications and focusing more on less fatal
complications. The reality is that you won't need to worry about being
blind if your heart stops beating or your kidneys shut down."
In Canada, almost three million people have diabetes, and 90 per cent of
these have Type 2. Type 2 diabetes is a serious, chronic illness that
can be difficult to manage because of its complexity. Fifty per cent
of people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have chronic kidney disease,
and 67 per cent of patients with Type 2 diabetes have at least one
specific risk factor for declining renal function. All individuals with
chronic kidney disease should be considered at high risk for
Kidney Complications a Particular Concern for Physicians
According to the national survey, less than half of Type 2 diabetes
patients (44 per cent) say they are worried about declining kidney
function and 47 per cent don't even consider themselves to be at high
risk of developing kidney disease because of their diabetes. Dr. Tytus
notes that these statistics are particularly concerning, given that
chronic kidney disease associated with diabetes is the leading cause of
kidney failure in Canada.
"High blood glucose causes damage to the delicate blood vessels in the
filters of the kidneys, and as the diabetes progresses, these filters
can become so damaged that the kidneys fail," says Dr. Tytus.
"Diabetes patients don't appear to be concerned about this, but they
Nadine Valk, National Director of Programs and Public Policy with The
Kidney Foundation of Canada, which also contributed to the survey
design, agrees. "Many people with diabetes could have serious kidney
damage without being aware of it. Signs of early kidney damage can
develop in 50 per cent or more of people with diabetes. The challenge
is that there are usually no specific symptoms of kidney disease until
the damage is severe."
Patients Are Not Always Hearing What Physicians Tell Them
While almost eight in 10 (77 per cent) of family physicians surveyed say
they have talked to their diabetes patients about kidney function, only
half of patients (52 per cent) report having had these conversations
with their physician. Additionally, 56 per cent of patients say that
their physician has not told them that their kidney health is at risk
from their Type 2 diabetes at all.
"We need to redouble our efforts to help our patients understand the
complexity of diabetes and its impact on kidney function," says Dr.
Tytus. "It's not a simple discussion to have, but an important one. We
also need to find ways to simplify treatment, which can also be
An additional challenge for physicians, he says, is that most
anti-diabetic treatments have prescribing limitations due to the fact
that they are passed through the kidneys. As kidney function declines,
some patients may need to adjust the dose of their medication or stop
taking it altogether, if it is cleared through the kidneys, to prevent
accumulation of drug in their bodies. Many of the most commonly used
oral medications that help control blood sugar levels are either not
indicated for use in patients with compromised renal function, or must
be adjusted carefully as a patient's renal function declines.
"Working closely with their physician, patients can optimize treatment
outcomes and hopefully delay damage to their kidneys," says Ms. Valk.
"It's important that diabetes patients follow a healthy lifestyle,
have their urine, blood and blood pressure checked regularly, and ask
their doctor about any new developments in the treatment of diabetes."
Additional Survey Findings
*Please see attached infographic for corresponding graphs and statistics
for the following key findings:
Overall, physicians are much more concerned about the complications of
Type 2 diabetes than patients.
- British Columbia diabetes patients are the most likely to "get it right"
by naming the same complications as the physicians as top concerns.
Patients in the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic provinces are
much more concerned about blindness as a complication of their disease
than patients in British Columbia.
Patients in Atlantic Canada are more likely to be concerned about
amputation as a complication of diabetes than most other provinces.
Patients in British Columbia and Ontario are much more concerned about
heart disease as a complication of diabetes, than patients in all other
Erectile dysfunction as a complication of diabetes is more concerning to
patients in the Prairies and Quebec than in British Columbia or
About the National Survey
The national survey was conducted by Vision Critical in partnership with
The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. and
Eli Lilly Canada. The research was conducted online from December 20,
2011 to January 13, 2012. The sample included both Canadian GPs and
adult diabetes sufferers. A total of 760 adult diabetes sufferers were
recruited via the Angus Reid Forum, according to Statistics Canada's
most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a
representative sample of the entire adult population of Canada. A total
of 301 physicians were recruited to be representative of the regional
distribution of GPs. Statistical testing has been conducted at the 95
per cent Confidence Level.
About the Kidney Foundation of Canada
The Kidney Foundation of Canada is the national volunteer organization
committed to reducing the burden of kidney disease through funding and
stimulating innovative research; providing education and support;
promoting access to high quality healthcare; and increasing public
awareness and commitment to advancing kidney health and organ donation.
SOURCE Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.
Video with caption: "Video: National survey reveals lack of understanding among patients about the most life-threatening complications of their disease". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20120828_C9929_VIDEO_EN_17249.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20120828_C9929_PHOTO_EN_17249.jpg&clientName=Boehringer%20Ingelheim%20%28Canada%29%20Ltd%2E&caption=Video%3A%20National%20survey%20reveals%20lack%20of%20understanding%20among%20patients%20about%20the%20most%20life%2Dthreatening%20complications%20of%20their%20disease&title=Complications%20of%20Type%202%20Diabetes%3A%20GP%20vs%2E%20Patient%20Perspectives&headline=Diabetes%20patients%20and%20GPs%20don%27t%20agree%20on%20most%20worrisome%20complications%20of%20condition
Video with caption: "Video: B-Roll - National survey reveals lack of understanding among patients about the most life-threatening complications of their disease ". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20120828_C9929_VIDEO_EN_17257.mp4&posterurl=http://photos.newswire.ca/images/20120828_C9929_PHOTO_EN_17257.jpg&clientName=Boehringer%20Ingelheim%20%28Canada%29%20Ltd%2E&caption=Video%3A%20B%2DRoll%20%2D%20National%20survey%20reveals%20lack%20of%20understanding%20among%20patients%20about%20the%20most%20life%2Dthreatening%20complications%20of%20their%20disease%20&title=Complications%20of%20Type%202%20Diabetes%3A%20GP%20vs%2E%20Patient%20Perspectives&headline=Diabetes%20patients%20and%20GPs%20don%27t%20agree%20on%20most%20worrisome%20complications%20of%20condition
Audio with caption: "Audio: Complications of Type 2 Diabetes". Audio available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/08/28/20120828_C9929_AUDIO_EN_17251.mp3
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/08/28/20120828_C9929_DOC_EN_17252.pdf