This site is intended for health professionals only


Diabetes ‘ignored’ in NHS shake-up and heart attack and stroke sufferers to benefit from promising treatments



Millions are being put at risk because diabetes is not given enough prominence by health and wellbeing boards, reports the Daily Mirror this morning. The paper says that charity Diabetes UK has looked at 20 boards’ health strategies and found policy on diabetes ‘varies considerably’, with monitoring ‘often absent’ and more than half of boards not implementing national guidance.

Diabetes UK chief executive Baroness Barbara Young said: ‘The number of people with diabetes is growing at an alarming rate but there is not enough priority given to preventing type 2.

‘For those who already have diabetes the support they need to manage their condition is inconsistent and this is leading to devastating complications, premature death and massive NHS costs.’

Over at the BBC is news of a promising potential new treatment for heart attack sufferers that could limit the damage to their myocardial tissue and help to prevent them from later developing heart failure.

The drug – MitoSNO – works by temporarily ‘switching off’ mitochondria in myocardial cells, preventing the build-up of damaging free radicals, when circulation is restored to the heart muscle.

Researchers reported in the journal Nature Medicine that MitoSNO markedly reduced the total area of damaged myocardium in mouse models of myocardial infarction.

‘It could potentially treat people immediately after a heart attack when blood flow to the heart is restored as part of routine treatment,’ said research adviser Shannon Amoils, from the British Heart Foundation.

‘This could mean fewer heart attack survivors go on to live with the burden of heart failure, which for many is a debilitating and distressing condition.’

Finally, many of the papers report on the potential benefits of pioneering stem cell therapy in a number of patients seriously disabled after suffering a stroke. Five out of nine stroke victims showed mild-to-moderate improvements after receiving the stem cell injections into the brain, with some able to move their fingers again after several years of complete paralysis and others able to walk again without assistance. The patients were all aged over 60 and had suffered their stroke between six months and five years previously.

The findings are considered preliminary and researchers cannot rule out the possibility of a placebo effect, but lead investigator Professor Keith Muir from Glasgow University told the BBC: ‘It seems odd that it should all just be chance and a placebo effect. We are seeing things that are interesting and somewhat surprising.’

He added: ‘My expectation had been that we would see very little change and if we did see change it would be a relatively short-lived temporary change. [But] we have seen changes that have been maintained over time.’