New Recommendations for Diabetes Screening

Diabetes screening recommendations for asymptomatic adults issued by US Preventive Services Task Force

(RxWiki News) Starting diabetes treatment early can greatly reduce the risk of serious complications. But many patients may not realize they're at risk.

This week, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its 2008 recommendations on diabetes screening for at-risk adult patients who show no symptoms.

The USPSTF now recommends diabetes screening as part of a cardiovascular risk assessment in all adults ages 40 to 70 who are overweight or obese. The USPSTF advises doctors to offer or refer all at-risk patients to behavioral counseling to promote healthy diet and exercise choices.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin (a hormone) causes blood sugar levels to consistently stay above normal. According to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, more than 380 million people have diabetes worldwide. And the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030, that number will more than double.

The most common form of diabetes is type 2. Unlike patients with type 1, patients with type 2 diabetes are able to produce some of their own insulin.

In 2012, 37 percent of all US adults had abnormal blood sugar levels that put them at risk for developing diabetes, according to the USPSTF. Abnormal blood sugar levels occur when the body doesn't consistently break down and use sugar properly.

For patients with abnormal blood sugar, lifestyle changes — such as eating healthier and exercising more often — may help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. According to the USPSTF, around 15 to 30 percent of these patients will develop type 2 diabetes within five years if they do not implement lifestyle changes to improve their health.

In 2008, the USPSTF recommended diabetes screening only for asymptomatic adults with high blood pressure. Since then, however, six new studies have found consistent benefits of lifestyle modification to prevent or delay diabetes progression.

According to the USPSTF, this new body of evidence suggests that diabetes screening would be beneficial to adults at risk for the disease.

Uncontrolled diabetes is the leading cause of cardiovascular illness and death, according to the USPSTF. Uncontrolled diabetes may also result in other complications, such as vision loss, kidney disease and amputation.

These recommendations were published Oct. 27 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The USPSTF funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

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Review Date: 
October 27, 2015