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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 08:25 GMT
Sickness takes financial toll
Insulin injection
Diabetics often spend long spells in hospital
Diabetics are losing thousands of pounds in earnings every year through sickness absence from work, research suggests.

People with type 2 diabetes who develop complications are likely to lose an average of 14,000 a year, but it could be as much as 24,000 annually.

Research shows they also often have the added burden of bills for private health care, medications and testing equipment.

The findings coincide with the publication of a report suggesting about 80% of people with diabetes are likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

Approximately 80% of adults with diabetes are likely to die of cardiovascular disease

Professor Marja-Riitta Taskinen, Helsinki
The diabetic complications, identified in two studies of 2,300 people, ranged from foot ulcers and blindness to heart disease and stroke.

Diabetics who develop complications are regularly absent from work because they often spend long periods in hospital.

The studies reveal that hospital stays for diabetics with complications were two to three times longer than those of people without complications.

Type 2 diabetes affects about 10% of adults over the age of 60.

People with the condition are unable to control levels of sugar in their blood.

This is partly due to defects in a particular type of specialised cell found in the pancreas.

These B-cells produce the hormone insulin that regulates the way sugar is broken down in the body.

One of the study authors, Professor Rhys Williams from the Nuffield Institute for Health, said: "It is essential to address the condition early with effective treatment plans, in order to prevent the progression of the disease and the onset of devastating complications, such as heart disease and stroke."

Diabetes forecast

Coronary heart disease is the main cause of illness and death among people with type 2 diabetes and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) is significantly higher in people with diabetes compared to those without the disease.

However, a report published in Practical Diabetes International suggests millions of people worldwide with type 2 diabetes are suffering and dying unnecessarily every year due to the inadequate screening and treatment procedures for CVD risk factors.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 300 million people will have diabetes by 2005 - doubling current estimates.

Professor Marja-Riitta Taskinen at the University of Helsinki, Finland, said: "Approximately one in two people with diabetes remains undiagnosed.

"Statistics have demonstrated that approximately 80% of adults with diabetes are likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

"So the importance of educating patients and health care professionals about diabetes care and the consequences of inadequate screening and treatment cannot be over-emphasised."

The report stresses the need for better screening, suggesting that not enough people with diabetes undergo lipid profile assessments - which measure blood cholesterol levels.

They say these tests are essential to ensure patients receive the correct treatment.

See also:

28 Dec 01 | Health
Stress 'control' helps diabetics
10 Jun 01 | Health
Diabetes deaths 'unnecessary'
14 Dec 01 | Health
Diabetes care blueprint launched
17 Jun 01 | Health
'An end to insulin jabs'
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