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Fortnightly appointments improve diabetes control

A fortnightly GP check-up could rapidly improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose control for patients with diabetes, a large study suggests.

The analysis of data from almost 26,500 US patients with uncontrolled diabetes found those who visited a doctor every one to two weeks had their condition brought under control significantly faster.

It took only an average of four months for frequent attenders not on insulin to reach a HbA1c of less than 7%, or 10 months if on insulin. This compared with 25 months and 53 months, respectively, in patients who saw the doctor every three to six months.

Similar results were seen with blood pressure – with 1.3 months to hit a target of less than 130/85 mmHg for fortnightly visits compared with 13.9 months. For a LDL-cholesterol reading of less than 100 mg/dL it took 5.1 months, compared with 32.8 months in those visiting less often.

Doubling the time between visits increased the time to reach treatment targets by 35% without insulin, 17% with insulin and by 87% and 27% for blood pressure and cholesterol.

The researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, concluded that with limited resources two-week intervals may be most appropriate for very poorly controlled diabetes patients.

Arch Intern Med 2011; 171 (17): 1542-1550


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