The social burden of hypoglycemia in the elderly
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The study aimed to evaluate the frequency of episodes of symptomatic hypoglycemia (SH) in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes and their impact on quality of life.
The study was conducted in 12 Italian regions. Participants filled in a questionnaire collecting data on socio-demographic and clinical characteristics and episodes of SH occurred in the last 4 weeks. The questionnaire included validated scales measuring fear of hypoglycemia (FHQ), psychological well-being (WHO-5), and diabetes-related distress (PAID-5).
Overall, 1,323 participants were involved (mean age 70.0 ± 8.7, 47.6 % male, disease duration 15.6 ± 11.7, 63.2 % treated with oral agents, 16.9 % with insulin alone, 14.4 % with insulin plus oral agents), of whom 44.6 % reported 1–3 episodes of SH and 23.8 % reported more than 3 episodes. Patients who reported SH had significantly higher levels of fear of hypoglycemia, lower psychological well-being, and higher diabetes-related distress (p < 0.0001 for all the scales). At multivariate analysis, the experience of more than 3 episodes of hypoglycemia was associated with a 13-fold higher risk of high fear of hypoglycemia (aOR = 13.3; CI 95 % 8.4–21.0), an almost 60-fold higher risk of high diabetes-related distress (PAID-5 score ≥40) (aOR = 59.1; CI 95 % 29.2–119.8), and a higher risk of low psychological well-being (WHO-5 <50) (aOR = 1.5; CI 95 % 0.9–2.4).
The occurrence of symptoms of hypoglycemia is very common among older adults with diabetes and their presence is associated with an extremely negative impact on quality of life. Minimizing the risk of hypoglycemia represents a high priority in the diabetes treatment of elderly people.
KeywordsHypoglycemia Elderly Quality of life Distress Fear of hypoglycemia
Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.
The study was reviewed by appropriate ethics committee and performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in an appropriate version of the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.
Human and animal rights
All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Declaration of Helsinki of 1975, as revised in 2008.
Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.
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