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Hypoglycaemia in the spotlight

12th April 2021

Sometimes seen as the price you pay for good glycaemic control, hypoglycaemia can have a profoundly damaging impact on the lives and wellbeing of many people on insulin and other glucose-lowering therapies. 

Hypoglcyaemia’s negative effects can be felt in almost any part of the body – from cardiac arrhythmias to cognitive impairment. The associated feelings of guilt, shame and fear may also pose serious threats to psychological health and quality of life.

And it’s not just people with type 1 diabetes who are affected. According to the 2016 Hypoglycaemia Awareness Tool (HAT) study, people with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes can expect to experience 2.5 episodes of severe hypoglycaemia each year. 

To address these issues, EASD e-Learning is launching a new course on Hypoglycaemia, starting with a module on ‘Reducing hypoglycaemia’, co-authored and presented by Professor Simon Heller whose credentials as a leading researcher and clinician in this sphere include his tireless efforts for the UK’s structured education programme ‘Dose adjustment for normal eating’ (DAFNE).

It’s a subject Professor Heller clearly feels passionately about, as is shown in his contribution to our podcast series ‘The patient who changed the way I think about diabetes’ (also launching this week). “It’s incredibly complex trying to reproduce glucose metabolism with the tools that we have on offer. They’re just not good enough to reproduce the physiology of the pancreas. And so we set patients a huge task. We expect them to become far more skillful in the management of their condition than most doctors and nurses, certainly those who are not specialist. And then we tell them off when they don’t achieve those glucose targets and, when they do, they often experience hypoglycaemia  not because they’re doing anything wrong, but because the treatment is inadequate.”

In his module, Professor Heller focuses on three principal strategies for reducing hypoglycaemia: the development of new, better insulins; new technologies, such as flash glucose monitoring, real-time continuous monitoring and the artificial pancreas, and – crucially, according to Professor Heller training and education.

To enrol on the course and take Professor Heller’s module, Reducing hypoglycaemia, go to our courses page.

Watch out for ‘Great expectations’, Professor Heller’s contribution to our podcast series, ‘The patient who changed the way I think about diabetes’  posting on Thursday 15 April.