medwireNews: Younger people with type 2 diabetes are less diligent than older patients when it comes to taking medications and following lifestyle advice, show data from the Australian National Diabetes Audit.
Consequently, these younger patients had worse glycemic control, despite a shorter duration of diabetes, report Sophia Zoungas (Monash University, New South Wales, Australia) and co-researchers.
Average diabetes duration was 9 years for patients aged 64 years or younger versus 15 years for older patients. Age 64 years was the median of the cohort, which comprised 2552 patients with type 2 diabetes who attended 56 Australian centers during a 1-month period in 2016.
Three-quarters (76%) of the younger patients had glycated hemoglobin levels greater than 53 mmol/mol (7.0%), compared with 66% of those who were older than 64 years, although similar proportions of both groups required insulin (58 and 59%, respectively).
Younger patients were also less likely to check their blood glucose levels as recommended, with 32% not doing so, compared with 22% of the older group, and 35% versus 20% said they forgot to take medications.
Writing in Diabetic Medicine, the researchers suggest that, for the latter issue, “[y]ounger people may particularly benefit from mobile and smartphone health technologies.”
Around half of all patients had seen a dietician during the preceding 12 months, and 39% found it hard to follow the recommended diet. This was particularly the case for the younger patients, at 48% versus 29% of the older group. The most common reasons given were financial and time constraints, especially among the younger group, as well as lack of knowledge and problems finding suitable food in restaurants, which were more commonly cited by older patients.
Few patients undertook sufficient physical activity, with no differences between the two age groups. The researchers note that the overall poorer self-care in younger patients persisted after they excluded people diagnosed within the previous 2 years, who may have still been learning how to manage their diabetes.
Zoungas and team suggest that “competing social, educational, travel, family or occupational commitments” may contribute to the poorer self-care seen in younger diabetes patients.
And they add: “Younger people may also not perceive their condition to be serious and postpone lifestyle changes until diabetes-related complications appear, whereas older people may be more likely to institute self-care practices having already been diagnosed with diabetes complications.”
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