Charity highlights life-threatening complications of condition and higher risk of heart failure, stroke and kidney failure
Sixty five people a day in the UK are dying early from complications arising from diabetes, which is the “fastest-growing epidemic of our time”, according to a charity.
The number of adults with diabetes in the UK has risen by more than 1.5 million in the past decade to more than 4.5 million, including an estimated 1 million who have type 2 diabetes but do not know it.
Diabetes UK analysis of official figures found that 20 people a day underwent diabetes-related amputations, and about 80% of these procedures were preventable.
It also said 203 people a day suffered heart failure, 78 suffered strokes and 39 needed dialysis or kidney transplants, and that people with diabetes were more likely to develop these problems.
To mark World Diabetes Day, the charity is seeking to raise awareness of the life-threatening complications of the condition.
“It is the fastest-growing epidemic of our time,” said Chris Askew, the chief executive of Diabetes UK. “The more you know about diabetes, the better. Cutting your risk of developing devastating complications is crucial.”
He said that as a result of research into specialist eye tests, diabetes was no longer the leading cause of blindness in the working age population, an example of how complications could be avoided when diabetes is managed properly.
Research has found only a small minority of people with diabetes are taking courses designed to help patients manage the symptoms, and others are missing out on health checks.
Diabetes is caused by too much glucose in the blood, or the inability to process glucose. About 10% of people with the condition have type 1 diabetes, meaning their bodies cannot produce insulin, the hormone that breaks down glucose. Type 1 diabetes is treated by daily insulin doses and usually affects children or young adults.
Between 85% and 90% of people with diabetes have the type 2 strand, meaning they do not produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly. The condition can be managed by following a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.
The decade-long increase in the number of adults with diabetes in the UK is largely due to an increase in type 2 diabetes. People are more likely to get type 2 if they are overweight, and it usually occurs in later life.
The number of cases is predicted to continue to rise dramatically in the next five years, and Askew said governments and health bodies had a responsibility to take action.
“Significant investment in diabetes care and prevention by UK and national governments and the NHS begins to recognise the scale of the challenge,” he said. “This needs to be sustained to provide enough effective care for everyone living with diabetes and tackling the rapid rise of type 2.”
Diabetes UK has a specialist helpline that can be contacted on 0345 123 2399 or email@example.com.