Routine tests predict risk of chronic liver disease in diabetics

by Barbara Hewitt on March 10, 2014

Routine liver tests can be used to predict people with type 2 diabetes that are at higher risk of developing chronic liver disease, researchers have found.


Research shows that death from liver disease was 70% more common in people with type 2 diabetes

A team from the University of Edinburgh monitored 922 people with type 2 diabetes, who were selected from the Lothian Diabetes Register, over four years to find out how beneficial regular testing might be.

Currently liver tests are recommended for people with type 2 diabetes but there is no formal guidance as to how clinicians should treat patients with abnormal results. As a consequence, patients are diagnosed with liver disease once it has advanced to a serious stage.

However, results of the study, presented at Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference, showed that abnormal liver test results provided a strong prediction of the development of chronic liver disease.

In addition, death from liver disease was shown to be 70% more common in people with type 2 diabetes.

Indeed, liver disease is the fifth largest cause of death in the UK and the research shows that substantial numbers of people with type 2 diabetes have abnormal liver enzymes, putting them at higher risk of chronic liver disease later in life.

In type 2 diabetes, chronic liver disease is usually brought on by an excessive buildup of fat within the cells of the liver and can lead to further complications including cirrhosis, liver cancer and death.

Diabetes UK, a leading charity, says that the results of the Edinburgh study can be used to provide better management of the risks of fatty liver by providing guidance on the monitoring and treatment of the condition.

Research has shown that well controlled diabetes is associated with lower risks of developing liver problems.

To help people with type 2 diabetes to achieve lower HbA1c levels, Diabetes UK has launched an education programme which provides test strips and guidance on how to use blood glucose testing to inform changes that improve diabetes control.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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