As a common side effect of insulin treatment for diabetes, hypoglycaemia is a constant threat and can have far-reaching and potentially devastating consequences, including immediate physical injury as well as more pervasive cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects. Moreover, as a significant limiting factor in achieving optimal glycaemic control, exposure to hypoglycaemia can influence diabetes self-management. Although hypoglycaemia is known to occur in Type 2 diabetes, its morbidity and impact on the individual are not well recognized. The aim of the current review is to examine published evidence to achieve a synthesis of the scope and significance of the potential detriment caused by hypoglycaemia to individuals with Type 2 diabetes. The implications of these observations for treatment and research have also been considered. A narrative review was performed of empirical papers published in English since 1966, reporting the effect of hypoglycaemia on quality of life and related outcomes (including generic and diabetes-specific quality of life, emotional well-being and health utilities) in Type 2 diabetes. Research demonstrates the potential impact of hypoglycaemia on the lives of people with Type 2 diabetes, from an association with depressive symptoms and heightened anxiety, to impairment of the ability to drive, work and function in ways that are important for quality of life. Few studies consider hypoglycaemia as an explanatory variable in combination with quality of life or related primary endpoints. As a consequence, there is a pressing need for high-quality research into the overall impact of hypoglycaemia on the lives of people with Type 2 diabetes.
© 2011 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine © 2011 Diabetes UK.