According to Diabetes Canada Guidelines, people over the age of 40 are at risk of Type 2 diabetes and should be tested every three years.
“We don’t really know how many people actually adhere to those recommendations, and so our study addresses this for Alberta,” Kaul said.
In 2013, the study took a cohort of patients between 40 to 79 years of age. Researchers then looked at the three-year period between 2013 and 2016 to find how many men and women were screened for diabetes. The patients were then followed up with for another four years to track if diabetes or prediabetes had developed.
The study found that the most significant difference between men and women was between the ages of 40 to 44. Women were more likely than men to be screened for diabetes with a screening rate of 72.6 per cent compared to 58 per cent for men.
This difference between men and women decreased with older age groups, although women still had higher rates. Kaul said one reason for this difference may be that men do not go to their primary care physicians as regularly as women do.
“We’re hoping that this study will help educate young men to go get screened for diabetes … because [there are] huge risk factors for heart disease, for cancer, and all kinds of complications,” Kaul said.
Even though the testing rates are lower in men, the study found rates of prediabetes and diabetes are higher among men.
“You see that there’s a huge public health problem, so we need to improve testing rates, because … the sooner you get diagnosed, the sooner you can change [your] lifestyle.”
If diabetes is diagnosed early or in the prediabetes phase, there are effective interventions to change the course of the disease.
Now that this gap has been identified, Kaul said that an education campaign that targets a specific population, such as Wear Red, may be needed.
“I think it may be time for us to think about those kinds of initiatives but with respect to diabetes screening.”
Additionally, Kaul suggested that if young men are unlikely to go to their primary care physicians, a possible solution is bringing screening programs to workplaces or gyms.
“We need to think outside the box now to see how we can get the screening rates up,” she said. “I would hope that people like public health agencies will look at this data and think of ways to address intervention studies that would maybe improve screening rates in young men.”
This study is the first of a four-year project, Real-world Evidence on the association between DIabetes and Sex on CardiOVascular Event Rates (REDISCOVER). Following this study, the project will also look at the association of diabetes and the long-term development of heart disease in men and women, and the differences in diabetes treatment for men and women.
Kaul concluded that it is never too early to be aware of the importance of screening for diabetes.
“Make sure that you’re screened and you’re doing [things] that are likely to improve the long-term health of young people,” she said. “I would encourage [everyone] to make a note and to make sure that you go see your primary care physician.”