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Up Front | Jul/Aug 2014

MEDICAL UPDATES

Hundreds of Individuals in the United Kingdom Diagnosed With Diabetes Daily

In the United Kingdom, more than 738 people a day are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, according to a new analysis conducted by Diabetes UK and the Tesco grocery chain.1

The analysis, based on National Diabetes Audit data, found that, every day in the United Kingdom, 738 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and 30 with type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes now accounts for 96% of new cases of diabetes, the investigators said.

According to Diabetes UK, the figures are much higher than previously thought, and this has serious implications for the nation’s health. In the United Kingdom, approximately 3.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, and an estimated 35% of the population has prediabetes.

Diabetes UK is calling for more focus on preventing type 2 diabetes. It advised that all individuals between the ages of 40 and 74 years undergo an NHS Health Check and proposed that greater investment should be made in ensuring that those identified as high risk get the support they need to help prevent the condition.

“If we continue to see people being diagnosed at this rate, then the consequences will be disastrous,” Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said in the news release. “As the number of people with diabetes grows, we are likely to see even more people endure devastating health complications such as amputation and kidney failure and more people die tragically young. It would also lead to an increase in NHS costs that would be simply unsustainable.

“As a country, we are still not giving diabetes health care the priority it needs, and we also need to get much better at preventing type 2 diabetes before it is too late,” Ms. Young continued.

Diabetes UK and Tesco have also announced that their National Charity Partnership will be extended until the end of the year. Since March 2013, the partnership has raised millions of British pounds to help tackle the growing problem of diabetes and prevent people from developing the condition.

  1. More than 700 people a day diagnosed with diabetes [news release]. Diabetes UK. July 4, 2014. http://www. diabetes.org.uk/About_us/News/More-than-700-a-day-diagnosed-with-diabetes/. Accessed July 5, 2014.

West African Health Ministers Adopt Strategy to Stop Ebola Outbreak

Health ministers from 11 West African countries have adopted a common strategy to fight the deadly Ebola virus outbreak occurring in the region, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).1 The strategy was conceived at an emergency 2-day meeting convened by the WHO.

A total of 759 people have been infected with the virus in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone; 467 of them have died. Most deaths have been centered in the southern Guekedou region of Guinea, where the outbreak was first reported in February.2

According to the WHO, the major factors responsible for continuous propagation of the Ebola virus outbreak in the subregion include negative cultural practices and traditional beliefs, resulting in mistrust, apprehension, and resistance to adopting recommended public health preventive measures. The extensive movement of people within and across borders has facilitated rapid spread of the infection across and within the three countries.

Under the strategy, the WHO will open a subregional control center in Guinea to coordinate technical support.

The WHO has sent more than 150 experts into West Africa over the past few months to contain the outbreak. It maintains, however, that political commitment is needed from governments in the region to ensure that the outbreak stops.

  1. Ebola challenges West African countries as WHO ramps up response. World Health Organization. June 26, 2014. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2014/ebola-response/en/. Accessed July 6, 2014.
  2. Ebola outbreak: West African states agree strategy. BBC. July 3, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28156263 . Accessed July 6, 2014.

Review Reaffirms Safety of Childhood Vaccines

A review of existing scientific evidence, published in Pediatrics,1 has concluded that childhood vaccines are safe and do not result in serious health problems.

Courtney Gidengil, MD, MPH, of Rand Corporation and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 67 previous studies. The researchers also included information from the more than 1,000 studies in a previous review done by the Institute of Medicine in 2011.

The review found strong evidence that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is not associated with autism, which is consistent with previous reviews. The researchers also found no link between childhood leukemia and vaccines for MMR, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP); tetanus; influenza; and hepatitis B. There was moderate evidence that rotavirus vaccines are associated with intussusception, the investigators found.

“We found evidence that some vaccines are associated with serious [air enema]; however, these events are extremely rare and must be weighed against the protective benefits that vaccines provide,” the study authors concluded.

  1. Maglione MA, Das L, Raaen L, et al. Safety of vaccines used for routine immunization of US children: a systematic review [published online ahead of print July 1, 2014]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1079.

Walking May Help Control Parkinson Disease Symptoms

Regular walking could help improve the symptoms of mild or moderate Parkinson disease, according to a small study published in Neurology.1

Researchers at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, conducted a 6-month randomized trial of different exercise regimens in independently ambulatory patients with Parkinson disease. All individuals were required to exercise three times per week for 45 minutes. During the first 2 years, 43 patients were randomized to continuous or interval training.

“Because preliminary analyses suggested higher musculoskeletal adverse events in the interval group and lack of difference between training methods in improving fitness, the next 17 participants were allocated only to continuous training,” the study authors wrote.

Eighty-one percent of 60 patients completed the study, with a mean attendance of 83.3% (95% CI, 77.5%–89.0%), exercising at 46.8% (95% CI, 44.0%–49.7%) of their heart rate reserve. There were no serious adverse events. Improvements in maximum oxygen consumption, gait speed, Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale sections I and III scores (particularly axial functions and rigidity), fatigue, depression, quality of life (eg, psychological outlook), and flanker task scores (P <.05 to P <.001) were observed. An increase in maximum oxygen consumption correlated with improvements on the flanker task and quality of life (P <.05).

“Our preliminary study suggests that aerobic walking in a community setting is safe; well tolerated; and improves aerobic fitness, motor function, fatigue, mood, executive control, and quality of life in mild to moderate [Parkinson] disease,” the study authors concluded.

  1. Uc EY, Doerschug KC, Magnotta V, et al. Phase I/II randomized trial of aerobic exercise in Parkinson disease in a community setting. Neurology. 2014;83:1-13.

–Compiled by Callan Navitsky, Senior Editor

Jul/Aug 2014