UAE: More awareness about diabetes can help prevent hypoglycemia, says expert
Hypoglycemia is prevalent among senior citizens who are diabetic.
An Abu Dhabi-based health expert has stressed the need for creating more awareness about diabetes combined with the use of new technological devices to prevent hypoglycemia, which is a lesser-known but dangerous medical condition.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, is a medical complication for diabetics, who are treated with insulin therapy and certain medications.
The condition is more commonly found among senior citizens and can lead to severe physical and cognitive impairment, if left untreated.
However, studies have revealed that the medical condition is largely underreported by diabetics.
Dr Ahmed El Laboudi, a consultant endocrinologist and diabetologist at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), a Mubadala Health partner, maintained that diabetes education and the use of latest technology could play a vital role in treating the medical condition.
He said that hypoglycaemia would refer to a blood sugar level of 70 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) or less.
Diabetics treated with insulin are more susceptible to hypoglycaemia and the medical condition would worsen as they age.
“Several factors, including the increased duration of diabetes and age-related physiological changes, make the elderly more prone to hypoglycaemia. Patients can experience a multitude of symptoms including excessive sweating, dizziness, palpitations, nausea, visual disturbance and confusion when they are having an episode,” said Dr El Laboudi.
“The term ‘severe hypoglycaemia’ is used to describe an episode, where the patient is confused or has lost consciousness and needs assistance to be treated,” he said.
Hypoglycaemia can lead to devastating consequences for senior citizens.
The inability to compose themselves during an attack can result in falls and fractures. It also increases the risk of life-threatening arrhythmias and studies have also shown a link to dementia.
Dr El Laboudi added: “Recurrent hypoglycaemia can also result in a reduction or complete loss of awareness of all the warning signs, which increases the risk of exposure to severe episode.”
New technologies can help manage hypoglycaemia
New technologies can help manage senior citizens' blood glucose levels who are diabetic and can significantly improve the quality of their life.
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is the most commonly used method, said Dr El Laboudi.
The CGM entails measuring glucose level in tissue fluid every one to five minutes.
The technology provides an elaborate picture of the patient’s glucose profile and helps recognise episodes of high or low glucose levels.
The CGM mechanism can also be integrated with a patient’s insulin pump to prevent a hypoglycaemic attack.
“The technology can be liberating for a diabetic who has frequent episodes of hypoglycaemia. It helps identify unrecognised hypoglycaemic episodes by sounding an alarm when it goes beyond the threshold level,” he added.
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