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Research on reducing the risk of complications

Professor Rury Holman

A 20-year study we supported showed that keeping blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels within a target range was key to managing diabetes and avoiding complications.  

Today we take this knowledge for granted. But it was in 1998 when the groundbreaking results were shared from a landmark clinical trial, the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), that change began to happen.  

Changing diabetes care for good

The results showed that keeping blood sugar and blood pressure levels within a target range could slash the risk of kidney disease, heart attacks and premature death in people with type 2 diabetes.

Another study showed the same was true for people living with type 1 diabetes.   

Professor Rury Holman, University of Oxford, co-led the UKPDS. He said: 

“These findings have had a profound influence on the management of type 2 diabetes, clinical guidelines, and standards of care. And they’ve helped reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications worldwide.”

Helen Atkins is the Diabetes Advanced Practice Lead at University Hospitals of Leicester. She said:  

“The UKPDS trial clearly determined the best course of action for improving the health of our patients.”

Improving diabetes care in the future

Today our researchers are still searching for discoveries to improve diabetes care and guidelines.   

Like Dr Claire Meek - she’s investigating if new dietary advice for pregnant women with gestational diabetes can reduce complications during pregnancy and birth. And in the long run, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes for mothers and their babies.     

We are also working to identify where there are unfair differences in diabetes care and understand how to address these through research. This is crucial so we can begin to tackle the unacceptable health inequalities that exist for people from ethnic minority backgrounds and those experiencing poverty.  

For example, we’re funding Dr Sophie Eastwood to research which type 2 diabetes medications work best for South Asian and Black people and explore disparities in access.

In 2021, she found people of South Asian and African or African Caribbean ethnicity with type 2 are less likely to be prescribed potentially life-saving statins than White people.  

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