Hey, it's the Virtual Age! Who says I actually have to be physically present at the annual ADA Conference (which kicked off this weekend) to bring you all the hottest news?
(Note that ADA staffers are putting a human face on the event this year with their collaborative SciSessions blog. Once again, I hope to represent the rest of us...)
* New diabetes risk: Hearing Impairment. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has identified yet another complication of this disease: people with diabetes were 76% to 91% more likely to have problems with hearing than those without diabetes. Researchers hypothesize that this "could be related to either underlying vascular or neuropathic dysfunction." Either way, a new push will be to get diabetes patients' hearing checked.
* Soaring rates of diabetic eye disease (but new shots may help). According to the CDC, the incidence of eye disease in PWDs is expected to TRIPLE from 2005 to 2050: from 5.8 million to 17.7 million people with diabetic retinopathy, and 1.3 to 3.7 million with eye damage in that direction. Mama Mia, that's a lot of eye disease! No wonder our healthcare system is getting more snowed under all the time.
A glimmer of hope here is new eye injections of a substance called pegaptanib sodium, currently FDA-approved for neovascular macular degeneration (age-related eye damage). A very small study of younger patients developing retinopathy shows that shots of this stuff "led to total regression of abnormal blood vessel growth, and some slight improvement in vision." Currently, patients with potentially blinding diabetic retinopathy have only two options -- laser therapy or surgery, both "imperfect treatments." So the new injections could bring an excellent alternative, researchers say.
* Tall diabetics are screwed (that's my wording, btw). If you're Type 1 diabetic, the taller you are, the more likely you are to develop peripheral neuropathy -- presumably because your extremities are farther away from the heart, and thus receive less blood flow. "The good news is that intensive glucose control helps to reduce this risk just as it did in the short folks," the researchers report. Hmm, so Tall People have even more reason to obsess about BG levels?!
* Electronic medical records help Nada. This one was reported around the Net last month as well: according to an observational study with 19 medical groups at 84 clinics around the country, using electronic medical records did not make a difference in diabetes patient care at all. A1c, LDL, and systolic blood pressure in patients was unchanged when their caregivers had access to the latest and greatest high-tech record-keeping. Another hmmm. More study is called for here to figure out what didn't go right...
* Higher drug costs = higher A1cs. Here's a no-brainer for you: for every $10 increase in health plan drug co-payments, there was also a 1.5% decrease in "adherence" -- meaning patients tended to skip their meds or otherwise get off their care regimen, and A1c levels went up accordingly. Surprise!
* Brush-Up on injection techniques. When you think of all the extremes we go to to improve our BG control, this one makes you smile. A simple study showed that when patients were given a brush-up course on shot techniques, their A1c levels improved. Might be time to ask your CDE to walk you through the proper procedure, yet again.
* See that nutritionist! Finally, a study in Philadelphia looked at visits with health educators and nutritionists as means to reducing risk of diabetes complications. Interestingly, only the nutritionist visits really seemed to make a difference, at least in reducing hospitalization rates and costs. Each nutritionist visit was associated with a $2,157 reduction in hospital charges. Wow.
That's all for now, Folks. I have a few "moles" on the expo floor whom I hope will report back with some hot product news very soon -- beyond all that coming over Google News at the moment. Same bat channel :)