Health: Vital Signs
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 30 December 1997
Drivers who suffer from diabetes may pose as big a risk to other motorists as those who drink, according to a study.
Low blood-sugar levels impair performance. People with insulin dependent diabetes may not realise that their driving ability is affected, researchers say.
A study of 2,000 accidents caused by drivers who collapsed at the wheel found 340 were the result of diabetic patients becoming hypoglycaemic - suffering from low blood sugar. Up to one-third of insulin-treated drivers have reported suffering from hypoglycaemia.
Dr David Kerr, consultant physician, and Joan Everett, a specialist nurse, say in the Journal of Diabetes Nursing that there is an urgent need for Britain's 370,000 insulin-treated diabetics to be made more aware of the risks, so that they eat regularly and keep a supply of glucose in their cars.
Scientists have added a further piece to the jigsaw that may one day yield the genetic basis of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, US, and the University of Madrid in Spain, compared two groups of individuals with and without Alzheimer's disease. They found three variations in a particular region of the Apo E gene. One of these caused unusually high levels of Apo E. People who had this variation were about three times more likely to have Alzheimer's than those who did not.
The chief researcher, Dr Alison Goate, said, "We believe that higher levels of Apo E expression are contributing to an increase in the risk of Alzheimer's disease."
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