Diabetics are more prone to fractures, study says

February 13, 2019

Diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of fractures. Both type-1 and type-2 diabetes involve failing insulin production, necessary to convert blood sugar into energy – the former typically develops in childhood or young adulthood, and the latter due to obesity and aging. Previous research is unclear on the exact role of blood sugar levels on the risk of fractures.

But, a recent large study of 47,000 people with diabetes – 3,329 with type-1 and the remaining with type-2 – indicate a likelihood of fractures when their average blood sugar levels were dangerously high. The risk was 39% more in type-1 diabetics. However, blood sugar levels didn’t appear to influence the same risk of fractures for patients with type-2 diabetes.

Several complications are known to increase risk of falls and fractures, such as neuropathy or nerve damage that diminishes sensation in the feet and other extremities, and retinopathy or eye damage. The study doesn’t account for whether patients had diabetic neuropathy, but has reported increased odds of fractures in type-1 diabetics with kidney failure or vascular complications like retinopathy.

Fall risks are much increased in those who cannot appropriately respond to postural perturbation, like in a trip or ankle turn, as clarified by Dr James Richardson, a professor in physical medicine in rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor. Therefore, good motor response combined with precise sensation in the feet and excellent visual acuity might prevent accidents leading to bone fractures.

Dr Francesca Formiga of Barcelona University has explained that diabetic patients in general should have good glycemic control – helpful to prevent fractures. Though not involved in the study, Formiga has said all diabetic patients should modify their treatment accordingly, both for their bones and overall health.

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Category: Education, Features

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