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We're helping fund vital research into preventing heart disease in type 2 diabetes

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Diabetes UK has joined forces with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to fund a new £2.1 million project led by Professor Kamlesh Khunti from the University of Leicester to prevent heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes who have had a diabetic foot ulcer.

Foot ulcers affect over 50,000 people with type 2 diabetes in the UK. We know that these people are at much higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, like heart attacks and strokes, and early death than those people with type 2 who have never had a foot ulcer.

Despite this, there has been little research into how to prevent cardiovascular disease and early death in people who have had a foot ulcer. There’s also been very little research to understand how people’s age, ethnicity and where they live affects the link between foot ulcers and cardiovascular disease. And there's currently no specialised care to support these people to reduce their risk.

In 2017, our Diabetes Research Steering Groups (DRSGs), which involve people with diabetes, healthcare professionals, and researchers, told us that that people with type 2 diabetes at the highest risk of complications feel unsupported. So we took action to fill this research gap.

With the funding from Diabetes UK and the NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research project, Professor Kamlesh Khunti and his team will use health records to find out how many people with type 2 diabetes with a foot ulcer go on to experience heart disease or stroke. They will also explore whether certain groups of people or certain areas are at higher risk.

Using this information, along with input from people living with type 2 diabetes, Professor Khunti and his team will develop a new healthcare package called MiFoot. This will aim to prevent cardiovascular disease and early death in people with type 2 diabetes who have had a foot ulcer. This package will be tested in a clinical trial, with people with type 2 diabetes who have a foot ulcer. This will find out how effective the package is in preventing heart disease or stroke, compared with standard care.

Hear from Prof Khunti on the details of the project:

Dr Elizabeth Robertson is Director of Research at Diabetes UK. She said:

“People with diabetes, healthcare professionals and researchers told us we need to do more to prevent diabetes complications in those at highest risk. So we’re delighted to have partnered with the NIHR to make a significant investment in this area. We hope Professor Khunti’s research will result in a new healthcare programme for the thousands of people in the UK living with type 2 diabetes and a history of foot ulcers who we know are at higher risk of heart attacks and stroke. If successful, this research will help people live longer and better lives with their type 2 diabetes.”

Professor Khunti is Professor of Primary Care Diabetes & Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester. He said:

 

“We are delighted that this Programme grant has been awarded as the risk of heart attack, stroke, and early death are high in people with type 2 diabetes and foot ulcers. We will be able to investigate not only the epidemiology but also develop and test an intervention to reduce the risks of these poor outcomes in a multi-ethnic population with type 2 diabetes and foot ulcers.”

 

Professor Elaine Hay is Programme Director of PGfAR. She said:

“We're pleased to be co-funding this new research with Diabetes UK, with their community of patients and carers providing valuable insight into what matters most to people with type 2 diabetes. Collaborations such as this between NIHR and Diabetes UK bring together diverse expertise and join up the health and care research ecosystem. This helps us to fund research that provides the greatest benefit for patients and the public.”

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