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Reduced Risk of Infection with Well-Controlled HbA1c Levels

DIABETIC patients who can effectively control their HbA1c levels have been found to have a significantly reduced risk of hospitalisation as a result of infection, according to research conducted at the St. George’s, University of London, London, UK.

Since diabetes is known to increase a patient’s risk of infection due to their weakened immune system, researchers from St. George’s, University of London assessed the impact of well-managed blood sugar levels on health outcomes. Records detailing infection rates from hospitals and general practitioner surgeries from 2010–2015 were analysed and 85,000 patients with diabetes aged 40–89 years were included in the study.

The results showed that patients with HbA1c levels ≥97 mmol/mol (11%) had an increased risk of hospitalisation as a result of infection compared to those with HbA1c levels between 43 and 53 mmol/mol (6–7%). It was found that those with worse HbA1c control were nearly 3-times more likely to need hospital treatment for infection than those with well-controlled blood sugar levels. This risk was even more pronounced, rising to an 8.5-fold higher risk, for Type 1 diabetes mellitus patients with poorly controlled HbA1c. Further analysis of the records also highlighted that there was a link between high blood sugar levels and the risk of pneumonia, which bears particular significance for the elderly population.

Prof Julia Critchley, Population Health Research Institute, St George’s, University of London, commented on the nationwide effect of these results: “Across England as a whole, we found that poor diabetes control accounted for about 20–46% of some of the most serious types of infections (sepsis, bone and joint infections, tuberculosis, and endocarditis) seen in diabetes patients.” This study highlights just how important the control of blood sugar levels is in diabetic patients, not only for managing hypo and hyperglycaemic events but also for reducing the risk of more systemic effects.