As the Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network launches KNOW HYPO to increase awareness of severe hypoglycemia, Endocrine News speaks with Leonor Corsino, MD, MHS, FACE, who helped create this campaign that could start saving lives immediately.
This month, the Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network (HHN) is launching a new public awareness campaign to help with the prevention of sever hypoglycemia and its consequences.
Called KNOW HYPO, this new campaign was created by HHN, the Society’s public education arm, so that anyone can be able to help someone who may be suffering from a dangerous drop in blood sugar. Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia include shaking or weakness and a quick response by a friend, loved one, co-worker, or even a stranger could save a life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypoglycemia is the cause of almost 300,000 emergency room visits each year, so a greater awareness of this complication is vital for successful disease management. If hypoglycemia is not quickly corrected, it can quickly worsen and even lead to death.
To help people recognize the signs of hypoglycemia before blood glucose levels drop to the severe point, HHN created informational materials to help the public understand what severe hypoglycemia is and how to intervene when a person is in danger. An infographic, video, poster for use in medical offices, web resources, and social media posts will all help raise awareness of this important issue.
Most patients with diabetes are aware that hypoglycemia has negative consequences. However, many patients are surprised to learn how serious severe hypoglycemia can be, especially since it can be fatal.”
Leonor Corsino, MD, MHS, FACE, associate professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C., was a member of the committee that worked to develop these materials and participates as a Sub-I in a study looking at hypoglycemia, and developed much of the content to support the patient education resources for this campaign.
She spoke to Endocrine News about KNOW HYPO and why it’s so important for everyone to know the warning signs of severe hypoglycemia, as well as why this was such an important priority for the Endocrine Society.
Endocrine News: Why was it important to develop educational resources for the KNOW HYPO campaign?
Leonor Corsino: As we continue to learn more about the detrimental effects of hypoglycemia in patients with diabetes, it is important to develop materials that provide patients with much-needed resources to better understand how things are changing in this field and how they can proactively work with their healthcare providers in identifying and developing skills that will help them prevent and successfully treat hypoglycemia. Because diabetes management requires a significant partnership between those engaged in patient care, it was important to give patients the tools they need to increase their knowledge so they have the confidence to engage with their providers.
EN: Why is raising awareness of severe hypoglycemia deemed a priority by the Endocrine Society now?
LC: There are many reasons why raising awareness of severe hypoglycemia is important. First, with the increasing number of patients diagnosed with diabetes comes a large number of patients treated to achieve glycemic control. Second, data shows that a large proportion of patients with diabetes are treated too intensively, increasing their risk for hypoglycemia. Third, current and emerging data show that severe hypoglycemia has detrimental outcomes in patients with diabetes such as preventable visits to the emergency room, hospital admissions, and even death. Fourth, with appropriate education and awareness, severe episodes of hypoglycemia are preventable.
Hypoglycemia can be mild, moderate, or severe based on the person’s blood glucose and condition. Here are the levels:
- Level 1 (mild) hypoglycemia: Blood glucose is less than 70 mg/dL but is 54 mg/dL or higher.
- Level 2 (moderate) hypoglycemia: Blood glucose is less than 54 mg/dL.
- Level 3 (severe) hypoglycemia: A person is unable to function because of mental or physical changes. They need help from another person. In this case, blood glucose is often below 40mg/dL.
EN: Did you use any of your personal experiences in treating patients with severe hypoglycemia in crafting these materials for the public?
LC: Definitely! All of us have had the unfortunate experience caring for patients who have experienced a severe episode of hypoglycemia that, in one form or another, changed their lives. For example, we all have patients that, after experiencing a severe episode of hypoglycemia, developed a severe fear of it, thus making it very hard to make changes to their regimens that could allow them to achieve their personal glycemic control goal. Further, some of us had patients that, while being treated with insulin, experienced severe hypoglycemia while driving or exercising, putting their lives or the lives of others at risk.
EN: What is something that the average person would be surprised to know about hypoglycemia?
LC: Most patients with diabetes are aware that hypoglycemia has negative consequences. However, many patients are surprised to learn how serious severe hypoglycemia can be, especially since it can be fatal.
We hope that KNOW HYPO will equip patients with the tools they need to engage in proactive conversations with their healthcare providers to better understand how to prevent these incidents.
EN: What is your hope that KNOW HYPO campaign will accomplish going forward?
LC: My main hope is that we will further enhance the patients’ and general public’s awareness of the negative impact of hypoglycemia. We also hope that KNOW HYPO will equip patients with the tools they need to engage in proactive conversations with their healthcare providers to better understand how to prevent these incidents. Further, I would like for us to continue engaging in conversations that will allow us to ameliorate the impact of preventable hypoglycemia.
Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. supported the development of KNOW HYPO.
More information can be found at hormone.org/knowhypo.