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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 11:55 GMT
'Lack of focus' on diabetes risks
Blood sugar testing
People with diabetes have to check blood glucose levels
The treatment of Type 2 diabetes must place more emphasis on tackling potentially fatal complications such as heart disease, experts have warned.

The number of people with Type 2 diabetes is increasing, largely due to higher obesity rates

A survey of 7,500 members of the public found 70% were unaware the condition was linked to cardiovascular disease.

The survey was carried out for the Define Dossier (Diabetes: Evaluating Future Impact Now) group.

Health services must take the long term view and prevent the heart attacks, strokes, blindness and kidney damage that diabetes can cause
Phil Casey, Diabetes UK
More than 1.8 million people in the UK are now estimated to have been diagnosed with diabetes. Around three quarters have Type 2, sometimes also called adult onset diabetes.

However experts also estimate there are up to a million people who have Type 2 diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes are unable to process glucose properly, leading to insulin resistance and the failure to produce enough insulin for the body's needs.

Insulin resistance happens when the body cannot respond properly to the insulin being produced, leading to difficulty in regulating blood glucose levels.

'Reducing the disease burden'

The survey also found 67% of people did not know that nearly a third of people who have a heart attack were unaware that they also had Type 2 diabetes.

And a poll of more than 100 nurses found that 60% felt that there was a lack of understanding in patients with the condition that it was not only long-term but also potentially fatal.

Experts called for action to tackle the underlying causes of Type 2 diabetes, such as insulin resistance.

Dr David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: "The obesity time bomb has already exploded and we are now awaiting the one for diabetes, which will follow shortly if we continue as we are today.

"Primary care can help to reduce the future burden of Type 2 diabetes by diagnosing the disease as soon as possible before complications set in, particularly those related to cardiovascular disease.

"In addition Type 2 diabetes needs to be treated vigorously to reduce the future threat of the condition, by concentrating not only on the raised sugar levels, but on the underlying weight problems, as well as insulin resistance - a root cause of Type 2 diabetes.

Dr Minesh Patel, a GP involved in the report, said: "There is a need for healthcare professionals and patients alike to take responsibility and look ahead, rather than just focusing on short-term achievements such as reducing blood sugar levels."

Phil Casey, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK said, "The report highlights the growing problem of dealing with the diabetes crisis. It is vital that people with diabetes are identified early and treated effectively.

"There is no short term fix for conditions such as diabetes. Health services must take the long term view and prevent the heart attacks, strokes, blindness and kidney damage that diabetes can cause."

09 Feb 99 |  Medical notes

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