People with type 2 diabetes who are medically well regulated by their GP have the same life expectancy as the general Dutch population. This conclusion is drawn by Esther Gerrits based on a long-term study in Zwolle. On 9 January 2013 she was awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen for the results of her research.
Most people with type 2 diabetes are treated and checked by their GP. People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Regularly checking risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, is part of diabetes care. Patients who get this care have the same life expectancy as the general population, Gerrits showed. In addition, she discovered that diabetics with a previous history of cardiovascular disease, for example who have had a myocardial infarction, or protein in their urine, do have a reduced life expectancy when compared with the general population. Protein in the urine is an indicator for damage in blood vessels and kidneys and may be a precursor of (chronic) renal disease. For diabetics this is a risk factor for mortality.
In the Zwolle region, diabetes care is organized in a transmural way. This means that type 2 diabetes patients participate in the ZODIAC project, the Zwolle Outpatient Diabetes project Integrating Available Care. Within the framework of this project, all diabetics are screened for disease complications by a diabetes nurse. An internist in the hospital assesses the results and advises the GP on treatment adjustments.
Esther Gerrits (Hardenberg, 1976) studied Medicine at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She conducted her PhD research at the Diabetes Kenniscentrum of the Isala Clinics in Zwolle. She conducted a part of her research in the context of the ZODIAC project headed by Prof. H.J.G. Bilo. Gerrits’s research was financed by the Diabetes Fund. The title of her thesis is ‘Cardiovascular risk and its determinants in high risk patients.’ She is currently in training to become an internist-vascular specialist at the UMCG.
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