Media Alert| Critically Low Blood Sugar Warning Sounded By Study

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6th October 2010, 08:51pm - Views: 979

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EMBARGOED for 6 October 2010, 5pm EST

A new study published today by Sydney-based The George Institute for Global Health has found that

people with type 2 diabetes who suffer episodes of critically low blood sugar levels (severe

hypoglycemia) are at greater risk of suffering subsequent vascular problems such as a heart attack,

stroke and kidney disease, as well as non-vascular problems such as cancer and respiratory


Researchers at The George Institute conducted a study involving 11,140 people with type 2 diabetes

across 20 countries over the age of 55 years. The study, which was published today in the New

England Journal of Medicine, is the first to show the link between a greater risk of suffering a wide

range of life threatening illnesses after the experience of severe hypoglycemia.

Approximately 246 million people live with diabetes worldwide with type 2 being the most common

form of diabetes, affecting 85-90% of all people with diabetes. 

Dr Sophia Zoungas, lead author of the paper says, “The study showed a strong link between severe

hypoglycemic episodes and subsequent life threatening health problems such as heart attack, stroke,

kidney disease and digestive disorders. The study suggests that once severe hypoglycemia occurs it

may be considered a marker of future vulnerability to serious conditions.  Importantly, it was not able

to show that severe hypoglycemia was the direct cause of the illnesses.”

“Ultimately this research means two things for people with type 2 diabetes; firstly, it’s increasingly

important to have a conversation with your doctor about how best to manage your diabetes to prevent

hypoglycemia in the first instance. Secondly, once severe hypoglycemia has occurred doctors and

those with diabetes should consider the possible underlying causes and adjust their blood sugar

management where necessary to prevent further episodes and minimise future health risks”, says Dr



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For more information, please contact:

Jackeline Alva

Communications Assistant, The George Institute for Global Health

Tel: +612 8238 2438/ Mobile: +61410 411 983

Fax: +612 9657 0301/ email:

About The George Institute

The George Institute for Global Health is an internationally-recognised health research organisation, undertaking

high impact research across a broad health landscape. Affiliated with the University of Sydney, the Institute is a

leader in the clinical trials, health policy and capacity-building areas. The Institute has a global network of top

medical experts in a range of research fields as well as expertise in research design, project management and

data and statistical analysis. With a respected voice among global policy makers, The Institute has attracted

significant funding support from governments, philanthropic organisations and corporations. George Institute

research is regularly published in the top tier of academic journals internationally.

Notes to Editors:

Approximately 246 million people live with diabetes worldwide, the vast majority of which suffer

from the type 2 form of the disease. By 2025, this number is expected to reach 380 million.

Lead author Dr Sophia Zoungas will be unavailable for interviews at the time of publication. Prof

Bruce Neal co-author of the paper will be available for interview in the time that Dr Zoungas is not


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