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VA Research Spotlight

Highlights of VA research on diabetes

November 15, 2017

In honor of National Diabetes Month, our focus this month is on diabetes.


Diabetes Fact SheetMore than 29 million Americans have diabetes, according to the CDC, and 86 million more Americans are at risk to develop the disease. Many Veterans have the disease, including some who developed it as a result of being exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam. VA researchers are studying innovative strategies and technologies, including group visits, telemedicine, peer counseling, and Internet-based education and case management to enhance access to diabetes care and to improve outcomes for patients.

VA Research News Briefs

More diabetic Medicare patients overtreated than undertreated -  Photo: ©iStock/andesr Photo: ©iStock/andesr

More diabetic Medicare patients overtreated than undertreated

Medicare patients with diabetes are more likely to be overtreated than undertreated, found a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and VA Health Services Research and Development Service study. The researchers studied data from more than 78,000 Medicare recipients with diabetes. They found that 11 percent were potentially overtreated for their diabetes. About 7 percent were potentially undertreated. Patients over 75 and those enrolled in Medicaid were more likely to be overtreated. Therapy was de-intensified for only 14 percent of overtreated diabetics. The results suggest that greater personalization of treatment would benefit patients with diabetes, say the researchers. (Journal of General Internal Medicine, Sept. 13, 2017)

Statin use linked to higher odds of diabetes in physically active people - ©iStock/gilaxia©iStock/gilaxia

Statin use linked to higher odds of diabetes in physically active people

Statin use was associated with double the odds of diabetes and its complications without offsetting cardiovascular benefits, in a VA North Texas Health Care System and University of Texas Southwestern study. The researchers looked at rates of diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes in healthy, physically fit people who were using statins to prevent cardiovascular disease. The researchers found 12.5 percent of statin users and 5.8 percent of nonusers were diagnosed with diabetes. Furthermore, 1.7 percent of statin users and 0.7 percent of nonusers were diagnosed with diabetic complications, such as nerve, kidney, and eye damage. The researchers concluded that the risks and benefits of statin use in healthy, physically active people may need to be reconsidered. (Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Jan. 24, 2017)

VA Research Quarterly Update

Improving Veteran buy-in to prevent diabetes

Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren is a VA research scientist and an internal medicine physician who treats patients at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan. His research focuses on key strategies that can be implemented within the VHA to help at-risk Veterans commit to reducing their risk for type 2 diabetes. VARQU recently spoke with Kullgren about his work to improve the health of Veterans who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes. (May 30, 2017)

Regular periodontal dental cleanings can help control type 2 diabetes, according to studies. Better dental care improves health for Vets with type 2 diabetes

A team including researchers at the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina, and Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston found that Veterans who had type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease achieved better control of their blood sugar levels when they received regular periodontal dental cleanings. (May 30, 2017)

VA Research Currents

Gestational diabetes and PreeclampsiaGestational diabetes and preeclampsia rates higher in women with PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder may be a risk factor for two common pregnancy complications, according to a VA study. Women Veterans with PTSD receiving care in the VA health care system had higher rates of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia than those without PTSD. (April 26, 2017)

Veterans in the Diabetes Prevention Program aimed for 150 minutes per week of walking or other moderate exercise.On the frontlines of diabetes prevention

Researchers compared two VA programs aimed at helping overweight or obese Veterans achieve a healthier weight and ideally stave off diabetes, which affects nearly 1 in 4 VA patients. VA researchers enrolled 387 overweight or obese Veterans with prediabetes in a pilot study that compared the efficacy of two VA programs: the Veterans Affairs Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), in which weight loss is a major element, and MOVE!, VA's flagship weight-management program for overweight or obese patients. (April 20, 2017)

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