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Benet Middleton, policy director at Diabetes UK
"By the time someone gets diagnosed with diabetes they have had it for between nine and 12 years"
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Sunday, 10 June, 2001, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK
Diabetes deaths 'unnecessary'
hand monitor
Blood testers help monitor diabetics
Two out of three diabetics who die from their complications could have been successfully treated, claim campaigners.

Delays in picking up the disease mean that many people with the adult-onset form are already in poor condition by the time it is diagnosed.

Diabetes UK, one of the UK's leading diabetes charities, says that on average, people have diabetes for between nine and 12 years before it is detected.

As many as half of them have already developed complications such as high blood pressure, poor circulation or eye problems by then.

At any time, an estimated one million people in the UK have diabetes - but do not know it.

Many GPs have neither a policy on screening for diabetes, or no specific clinic to help those already diagnosed.

More screening

Diabetes UK wants a better overall standard of care for diagnosed diabetics - and more work to screen at-risk older patients for the illness so it can be treated early.

Its chief executive Paul Streets said: "Far too many people are being diagnosed so late that they are already developing complications.

"Too many people are not getting the care they need to manage their diabetes properly and thus minimise their risks of developing complications. This is simply not good enough.

"Diabetes is growing to epidemic proportions and is set to double in the UK by 2010."

New rules

The government is expected to publish a national service framework for diabetes later this year, which should set out minimum standards of care for diabetics.

Too many people are not getting the care they need

Paul Streets, Diabetes UK
The disease costs the NHS 5.2bn a year, says the charity.

Adult onset, or type II diabetes, tends to be diagnosed in middle age or later, and develops as the body's method of controlling the levels of blood in the sugar begins to deteriorate.

Type I diabetes, which happens primarily to much younger patients, involves a far more sudden and catastrophic breakdown of this system.

There are many more type II diabetics than type I diabetics in the UK, and its development has been linked to physical conditions such as obesity.

It can be controlled in many cases either by changes in diet and exercise alone, or in more severe cases, with regular insulin medication as well.

If type II diabetes untreated, it can cause high blood pressure, which greatly increases the risk of developing heart disease.

This is the leading cause of death in diabetics aged over 30.

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See also:

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