There are 3.2 million people in the UK with Type 1 and 2 diabetes. While most of us have a basic understanding of the condition less of us are aware of the serious health complications that diabetes can lead to.

Earlier this week, Diabetes UK published its annual State of the Nation report which highlighted the need for everyone living with Type 1 and 2 diabetes to complete eight annual health checks to reduce the impact of complications.

Worryingly, the report shows that not everyone with Type 1 diabetes is currently completing each check, with uptake falling from 43% to 41% for all tests compared with 62% of people with Type 2 diabetes. The number is particularly low for those of working-age, which could relate to convenience and accessibility of tests. Treatment targets for blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol are being met by just a third.

Diabetes UK recommends the following eight annual health checks. We bet you didn’t know that many tests are available at your local LloydsPharmacy to help you monitor your progress throughout the year?

  1. Blood pressure – to check for early signs cardiovascular diseases that people with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing
  2. Cholesterol – to test cholesterol levels. Poor cholesterol control can also lead to cardiovascular disease, testing allows for changes to be made to your diet and lifestyle if required
  3. Smoking – to record smoking status. Smoking heightens the risk of diabetes complications support can be offered to help you stop
  4. BMI – to check if weight is healthy. Waist measurements are also a good indicator. The results of both may result in weight loss being advised
  5. Feet – to spot changes to the skin, circulation and nerve supply. Poor management of diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage, with reduced feeling in the feet
  6. Blood glucose – to be completed by your GP to measure levels of HbA1c (blood glucose) and overall blood glucose control so that healthy targets can be set
  7. & 8. Urine albumin & Serum Creatinine – to be completed by your GP to check kidney function. These tests require a blood test and urine sample to test protein levels

Regular eye screening is also important to look for signs of retinopathy, a serious complication which can affect those with Type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Self-management alongside effective care is vital in reducing the impact of diabetes complications. The National Health Service spends around one tenth (£10 billion in 2011) of its total budget on diabetes and related complications. However without the provision of pharmacy-based initiatives this would be much higher.

Visit your nearest LloydsPharmacy to find out more about the tests on offer at your local store. Do you think you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes? We also offer free Type 2 diabetes screening in-store.