Maritime Health Research and Education-NET/The International Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension Research Group/Screening program for diabetes type 2 and hypertension in seafarers’ routine medical examinations

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PILOT protocol for accurate screening diabetes type 2 and hypertension in seafarers’ routine medical examinations 2023

->Excel data sheet ready for data entry - download to your PC/Laptop(Google Drive)

->Link Power point presentation


Seafarers, have a great inequity in health at work with a higher risk of overweight, metabolic syndrome, diabetes type 2 and hypertension and a need for accurate early diagnosis and prevention[1] [2][3][4][5][6]While the objective one hundred years ago for the fit-for-duty medical examinations was purely related to the safety of the seafarers and the ships, now the ILO guidelines inspire to include protocols related to the general health of seafarers beyond the fit-for-duty protocol. The focus on early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and hypertension seems to be a good choice for intervention based on the evidence that pre-hypertension and pre-diabetes mellitus Type 2 can be reversed by non-pharmacological and pharmacological measures [7][8][9][10][11]Screening in medical practice for hypertension can cause validity issues, and more research is needed [12][13][14]. The actual background dates back to February 2021 when the President of IMHA[15] Rob Verbist with the support of Europeche [16] and European Transport Workers Union (ETF) [17] calls for MAHRE-Net[18] to establish a research group on a valid, early diagnosis of diabetes and hypertension in the fit-for-duty studies, to launch a preventive program and to carry out revision of the ILO's guide for seafarers' health surveys [19].The problem with the use of urine sticks for e.g. Diagnosis of diabetes has been reported in previous publications [20][21] [22] [23]. The purpose of this pilot is to describe and test how an accurate diagnosis of diabetes and hypertension at different stages and relevant risk factors can be integrated into the fit-for-duty studies for seafarers.


  1. To try out how the proposed accurate measures of Diabetes Type 2 (DMT2) and Hypertension (HTN) function in the routine health examinations.
  2. To use the mandatory health examinations to include valid tests for diabetes Type 2, i.a. with a blood test to measure Hb1Ac and Hypertension.
  3. To establish and integrate together with the ship owners a "Green-ship" health promotion program with work routines, that support employees with Diabetes Type 2 and Hypertension can continue their employment with due consideration keeping their Diabetes2 and Hypertension in well-treated status.
  4. To include work exposure data to point out the specific workloads e.g. skippers more sedentary work and higher risk for HTN and T2D.

Education and training in health promotion and safety for medical doctors and seafarersEdit

We intend to develop education and training online programs for seafarers, maritime medical doctors and other relevant groups mainly based on available materials like the "Marihealth-project"[24],The MARIWEL courses[25]and the 7 ways to make healthy habits a priority when at sea[26]and the E-Healthy Ship Hamburg Project[27], supported by proposals on what should be done [28]the MariHealth EU project and one article from a Danish Ph.D project[29][30][31][32] just to mention few of all contributions to the subject. An online seminar on the subject will be planned for Sept 2022

Table 1 Clinical variables to be recorded in screening for hypertension and diabetes T228/3 2022
Figure 1 On Board Online Health Education and Training
Figure 2 Maritime medical doctor in dialogue with seafarer
Figure 3 Screening for Diabetes and Hypertension in "Green-ship" health promotion for seafarers


Systematization and national/international centralization of the results of the routine medical examinations for different job groups to be used for eduation/training and the planning of the healthy "Green-ship"

Study designEdit

Cross-sectional clinical study using data collected in the maritime health clinics, mainly in the General Practice clinics.

Time frame for data collectionEdit

Pilot data collection period in the clinics after agreement in 2022

Inclusion criteriaEdit

  1. All seafarers, and fishermen, attending to routine health examinations are included in the pilot study in 2023
  2. All are included irrespective of age and risk status, for example, not only those with visible higher risk status for example with obesity and older
  3. Those with normal A1C results (normal blood pressure) in the test are included as positive diabetes/hipertension if they have answered using diabetes /antihypertensive medicine in the interview scheme.


Gender, age, nationality,

Work exposure dataEdit

Coastal Fish bridge=11; Costal Fish not bridge=1; Deep sea fish Bridge= 12; DeepSee fish Not bridge=2; SeafarerBridge =3; Sea-Deck = 4; Sea-Engine= 5;Diver=6; Off-shore =7

Personal health promotionEdit

Smoking (no/former/smoker) intake of fruit and vegetables (high/little/none) and physical activity (high/little/none)

Laboratory dataEdit

Height, weight -->BMI, Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c), fasting glucose, waist circumference, blood pressure, If fasting plasma glucose (FPG) is taken in the clinic per routine then the result is included in the Excel Data Form,

Figure 4: Clinical data T2D & HTN limits

Data collectionEdit

  1. Laboratory data as above
  2. Personal information from the interview scheme on use of medicine for diabetes and/or hypertension
  3. Excel Data Sheet for use in the pilot project[33]
  4. The medical doctor reduce the administrative work time with the help from assistant personnel
  5. The data collection can be divided in time periods e.g. every second month and still keep a random sample

Accurate measurement of blood pressureEdit

Accurate measurement of blood pressure is essential to classify individuals, to ascertain blood pressure–related risk, and to guide management. It is important to record the pre-hypertension epidemiologically and for the seafarers as there is an obvious possibility of prevention. It is also important to have a plan for the prevention of the various degrees of hypertension[34].The auscultatory technique with a trained observer and mercury sphygmomanometer continues to be the method of choice for measurement in the office, using the first and fifth phases of the Korotkoff sounds. The use of mercury is declining, and alternatives are needed. Aneroid devices are suitable, but they require frequent calibration. Hybrid devices that use electronic transducers instead of mercury have promise. [35] It is important to record the pre-hypertension epidemiologically and for the seafarers as there is an obvious possibility of prevention. It is also important to have a plan for the prevention of the various degrees of hypertension[36]

Guidelines on diagnosing HTN recommend certain aspects that we must take into account and certain things that we must avoid:

  1. In the 30 minutes before your blood pressure is taken, no smoking, no caffeine and no exercise. In the 5 minutes before your blood pressure is taken sit still.
  2. During blood pressure is taken make sure the cuff is the right size and in the right place, keep your cuffed arm on a flat surface, like a table and at heart level, sit upright, feet flat on floor and don`t talk.[37]

Avoid this things:[38]

  1. Putting the cuff over clothing, rather than a bare arm, can add 10-40 mm Hg to a measurement.
  2. Having a full bladder can tack on 10-15 mm Hg.
  3. Talking or having a conversation: an additional 10-15 mm Hg.
  4. Failing to support the arm at heart level can add 10 mm Hg.
  5. An unsupported back can increase a measurement by 5-10 mm Hg. That same range applies to feet left dangling from an exam table or high chair.
  6. Crossing legs means an extra 2-8 mm Hg
  7. Do not sit with your back bent
  8. No alcohol> 5 the day before

Protection of personal dataEdit

Confidentiality in the handling of personal data is in accordance with the rules of the national data protection agencies and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is prepared with. No personally sensitive information is included in the data set given to the researchers, so approval from the Ethics Committee is not necessary. All questionnaires ask for informed consent as the first question. Types of experiments not to be notified: Questionnaire and interview surveys; Registry research surveys; Quality assurance projects; Non-interventional drug trials[39]If the cluster and the individual practices in the cluster can access data that is aggregated for the individual extension number in a way that does not make it possible to identify individual patients, it is "statistical information" as far as the patients and personal data are concerned. in relation to the doctor identified via his outpatient number [40] [41]


Amendments are needed, in the training curriculum for maritime medical doctors and the international and national guidelines as well[20][21][42][43][44].

  1. One Hb1Ac test (or Fasting Glucose ≥ 126mg/dl) of (5,7-6,4 = pre-diabetes) Diabetes ≥ 6.5% is sufficient to confirm the (pre-)diabetes diagnosis (not be repeated the same day) (see Figure 4)
  2. A positive test should be repeated within 14 days to verify the first lab test
  3. Preventive advice is given according to the clinic advices to keep diabetes and Hypertension well controlled and to stay fit for work

American Diabetes Association Danish Endocrinological Society and the International Society of Hypertension Global Hypertension Practice Guidelines[45] Supplemental ADA risk test for T2D[46]


Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:

  1. Achieve and maintain healthy body weight
  2. Physically active – doing at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control
  3. Eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats; and
  4. Avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease One test, HbA1c is sufficient to diagnose diabetes. A positive diagnosis can be made if the HbA1c level is ≥6.5% A case of positive diagnosis should be confirmed with a repeat HbA1c test and/or plasma glucose A case of positive diagnosis should be confirmed with a repeat HbA1c test and/or plasma glucose American Diabetes Association [1]Danish Endocrinological Society and the International Society of Hypertension Global Hypertension Practice Guidelines[45]

Intervention in collaboration with the shareholdersEdit

The shareholders in the respective job groups are included to help to establish the needed specific conditions available for keeping good health practices for employees with Diabetes Type 2 and Hypertension in the different job types. This in order to have good opportunities during the working day to have time and allowance for relevant work breaks, restroom visits, access to healthy meals in a good social company, and possibilities for adequate physical activities. These conditions are different for each job group and the analysis of these conditions and suggestions on how it can be made optimal is part of the project. Installations for the adequate structural change in the workplaces, time for meal breaks and restroom visits, cooks are hired to make healthy lunches, fitness room, and other relevant installations.

Minutes from meetingsEdit


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  2. Oldenburg M, Jensen H-J, Latza U, Baur X. Coronary risks among seafarers aboard German-flagged ships. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2008 May;81(6):735–41
  3. Tu M, Jepsen JR. Hypertension among Danish seafarers. Int Marit Health. 2016;67(4):196–204
  4. Herttua K, Ahrenfeldt LJ, Paljarvi T. Risk of major chronic diseases in transport, rescue and security industries: a longitudinal register-based study. Occup Environ Med. 2022 Mar;79(3):162–8.
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  7. New Guidance on Blood Pressure Management in Low-Risk Adults with Stage 1 Hypertension [Internet]. American College of Cardiology. [cited 2022 Feb 7]. Available from:
  8. Alderman MH. Non-pharmacological treatment of hypertension. The Lancet. 1994 Jul 30;344(8918):307–11
  9. Baygi F, Mohammadi-Nasrabadi F, Zyriax B-C, Jensen OC, Bygvraa DA, Oldenburg M, et al. Global overview of dietary outcomes and dietary intake assessment methods in maritime settings: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2021 Aug 21;21(1):1579
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  11. Taylor R, Al-Mrabeh A, Sattar N. Understanding the mechanisms of reversal of type 2 diabetes. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2019 Sep 1;7(9):726–36
  12. Guirguis-Blake, Janelle M., Corinne V. Evans, Elizabeth M. Webber, Erin L. Coppola, Leslie A. Perdue, og Meghan Soulsby Weyrich. “Screening for Hypertension in Adults: Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force”. JAMA 325, nr. 16 (27. april 2021): 1657–69.
  13. “To screen or not to screen – for højt blodtryk?” Set 3. april 2022.
  14. Tu, Mingshan, og Jorgen Riis Jepsen. “Hypertension among Danish Seafarers”. International Maritime Health 67, nr. 4 (2016): 196–204.
  16. http: //
  20. 20.0 20.1 Jensen OC, Flores A, Corman V, Canals ML, Lucas D, Denisenko I, et al. Early diagnosis of T2DM using high sensitive tests in the mandatory medical examinations for fishers, seafarers and other transport workers. Primary Care Diabetes. 2022 Feb; 16 (1): 211–3:
  21. 21.0 21.1 Jensen OC, Flores A, Corman V, Luisa Canals M, Lucas D , Denisenko I, et al. Rethinking the use of urine dipstick for early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2022 Jan; 109222
  22. Wei, Ooi Yau and Stewart Teece. "Urine sticks at screening for diabetes mellitus". Emergency Medicine Journal: EMJ 23, No. 2 (February 2006):
  23. Friderichsen, Bolette, and Margareta Maunsbach. "Glycosuric tests should not used in population screenings for NIDDM ". Journal of Public Health 19, No. 1 (March 1, 1997): 55-60.
  35. Pickering, Thomas G.; Hall, John E.; Appel, Lawrence J.; Falkner, Bonita E.; Graves, John; Hill, Martha N.; Jones, Daniel W.; Kurtz, Theodore et al. (2005-02-08). "Recommendations for Blood Pressure Measurement in Humans and Experimental Animals". Circulation 111 (5): 697–716. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000154900.76284.F6. 
  37. "How to accurately measure blood pressure at home". Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  38. Handler, Joel (2009). "The Importance of Accurate Blood Pressure Measurement". The Permanente Journal 13 (3): 51–54. ISSN 1552-5767. PMID 20740091. PMC 2911816. 
  41. /jura.php
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  43. Wei, Ooi Yau, og Stewart Teece. “Urine dipsticks in screening for diabetes mellitus”. Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ 23, nr. 2 (februar 2006): 138.
  44. Friderichsen, Bolette, og Margareta Maunsbach. “Glycosuric tests should not be employed in population screenings for NIDDM”. Journal of Public Health 19, nr. 1 (1. marts 1997): 55–60.
  45. 45.0 45.1 Unger T, Borghi C, Charchar F, Khan NA, Poulter NR, Prabhakaran D, et al. 2020 International Society of Hypertension Global Hypertension Practice Guidelines. Hypertension. 2020 Jun;75(6):1334–57