New U.K. health campaign urges people with diabetes to ‘TALK Hypos’

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The TALK Hypos awareness campaign has launched in the U.K., supported by Novo Nordisk and Diabetes U.K., encouraging people with diabetes to report hypoglycemia (hypos) to their doctor or nurse.

There are about 3.2 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the U.K., and hypos are one of the most common diabetes complications. Hypos are when glucose in the blood falls to a low level, and symptoms can include a pounding heart, trembling, hunger, difficulty concentrating and blurred vision. Left untreated, hypos can become serious and cause unconsciousness. Despite this, hypos remain under-recognized and under-reported by patients.

Simon O’Neill, director of health intelligence for Diabetes U.K., said, “People with diabetes can fail to report hypos to clinicians for a range of reasons, including lack of awareness, a fear of losing their driving license and a belief that their healthcare professional is unable to make a difference. To make matters worse, we know that people with diabetes and their families are often fearful of hypos and feel powerless to do anything.”

“The first step is to help people with diabetes recognize the symptoms of hypos and better manage their condition by encouraging a regular discussion about them during consultations,” said O’Neill.

TALK Hypos provides an acronym to encourage people with diabetes to discuss hypoglycemia with their doctor or nurse:

  • THINK: Do you know what a hypo is? Do you suffer from hypos?
  • ASK your doctor or nurse about hypos and discuss them as part of your consultation
  • LEARN what can be done to better manage your hypos, including lifestyle and treatment options
  • KEEP track of your hypos for discussion with your healthcare professional.

As well as the more immediate symptoms, a few people may experience severe hypos, which can require emergency assistance. Regularly occurring, severe hypos have been linked to longer-term health complications including, in some instances, heart disease. Having repeated hypos can, over time, lead to “hypo unawareness,” when the warning symptoms of a hypo are no longer felt, making hypos harder to identify and more difficult to manage.

O’Neill said, “We would encourage all people with diabetes to remember the simple TALK Hypos message and remember that steps can be taken to better manage hypos, including simple changes to lifestyle, diet and treatment. It is very important to discuss hypos as part of the regular consultation with your doctor or nurse.”

Klaus Henning Jensen, director of clinical, medical and regulatory, Novo Nordisk, said, “Novo Nordisk is proud to support the TALK Hypos campaign, which aims to improve awareness of hypos as part of ‘Changing Diabetes: a global commitment to improving conditions for the millions of people who live with diabetes around the world today, and those who are at risk of developing diabetes tomorrow.’ “

The TALK Hypos campaign comprises patient education materials and an education video hosted on the Diabetes U.K. and Novo Nordisk web sites.

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