Calculator for 3-Year Diabetes Risk Released

A new online calculator for the risk of developing type 2 diabetes has been released by University of Edinburgh researchers. In the UK, more than 700 people a day are diagnosed with diabetes. The diabetes calculator promises to help doctors identify patients with high risk of developing the disease so they can be tested and offered lifestyle advice.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease in which there is a high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood caused by insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone responsible for getting glucose into cells. Without insulin action, glucose stays in your blood, causing high blood glucose. Because blood glucose often rises during serious illness, it can be difficult for doctors to identify hospital patients who are at risk for diabetes — a calculator was needed!

The diabetes calculator was based on a retrospective cohort study of over 86,500 people who were admitted to the hospital with a high blood glucose level. While no single piece of data was a predictive calculator of diabetes risk, but by considering age, sex, socio-economic deprivation, and hospital blood glucose, the diabetes calculator can predict which people were most at risk for developing type 2 diabetes within 3 years.

Research behind the diabetes calculator was reported in PLOSmedicine. Derek Bell, a PLOSmedicine editor, describes the calculator study:

“[B]lood glucose measured during an emergency hospital admission predicts the subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes among patients aged 40 years or older… [A]ny patient with a blood glucose level above 11.1 mmol/l on hospital admission for an acute illness (one in 40 patients in this study) should be offered follow-up testing.”

Such a calculator helps doctors identify and motivate patients who could greatly improve their health through simple lifestyle changes like diet and exercise — the diabetes calculator could help convince someone to make a positive change.

David McAlister, who headed the Edinburgh study, states the diabetes calculator will:

“[E]nable us to identify people at risk of diabetes and give them the opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes to improve their health, without the cost of running a national screening programme.”

Although the Edinburgh diabetes calculator was based on Scottish patient data, it should help U.S. physicians as well. With obesity on the rise, such a diabetes calculator will prove a useful tool.

Other calculators have been developed, for example, a prostate cancer risk calculator and a cardiac risk calculator for rheumatoid arthritis patients. These calculators are based on multiple datapoints which aim to predict a particular clinical outcome.

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