Well over a third of patients with type 2 diabetes say they do not fully understand their heightened risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a small survey by a pharmaceutical company.
It found 41% of respondents thought they did not fully understand their risk of CVD, despite the fact that they were significantly more likely to develop the condition than those without diabetes.
“We need to ensure more patients understand the link between type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease”
It also identified barriers preventing clinicians from discussing CVD risk with patients as including lack of time and prioritisation of conversations about other health problems linked to type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, the survey found that nurses placed twice as much emphasis on discussing potential complications like CVD with their type 2 diabetes patients, compared with GPs – 30% versus 16%.
A higher number of nurses said their patients understood more of the information on the link between type 2 diabetes and CVD that they provided, compared with GPs – 45% versus 35%.
This implies that nurses may be communicating with patients in a “more digestible and relevant” way, suggested those behind the survey.
The online survey, conducted by the firm Novo Nordisk, also found that only 10% of nurses and GPs agreed that their type 2 diabetes patients proactively asked about their risk of CVD.
However, 90% said they routinely had conversations with their type 2 diabetes patients about their CVD risk, but 41% agreed there are significant challenges to discussing it.
Novo Nordisk carried out an online survey of 1,000 patients and 500 GPs and nurse educators as part of Get to the heart of T2D, an educational initiative which aims to raise awareness and increase understanding of the link between CVD and type 2 diabetes.
“It is critical that effective discussions around managing and reducing risk for type 2 diabetes patients happen as early as possible”
The goal of the research was to uncover diabetes patient awareness and understanding of CVD risk, the challenges they faced as well as what support they felt they needed. It involved nurses in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Sheffield and Southampton.
Commenting on the findings, Grace Vanterpool, diabetes nurse consultant at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, said the survey highlighted the “significant role” of nurses in helping patients with type 2 diabetes to understand and manage their risk of CVD.
“Promoting patient self-care is integral to our role so it is encouraging to see that nurses are communicating with patients in an understandable and meaningful way,” said Ms Vanterpool.
“However, we need to ensure more patients understand the link between type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and are motivated to take steps to reduce their cardiovascular risk,” she said.
Professor Steve Bain, assistant medical director for research and development for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, added that it was “critical that effective discussions around managing and reducing risk for patients with type 2 diabetes happen as early as possible”.
He noted that, for patients with type 2 diabetes, the risk of dying due to CVD was similar to someone who had already had a heart attack.
He added that he was concerned that the survey indicated that conversations on the link were “either being avoided altogether or lack clarity”, potentially leaving many patients “uncertain about how to reduce their risk”.
- The full results of the survey are attached below in a spreadsheet file
- Diabetes management 1: disease types, symptoms and diagnosis