Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New proof that Diabetes is an epidemic

NEW research has provided compelling evidence of the rapid increase of diabetes in Australia.

The study investigated medicine used to control diabetes and found a twofold increase in the use of insulin and a threefold increase in the use of oral blood glucose-lowering medicines between 1990 and 2004.

According to the report, Use of Medicines by Australians with Diabetes, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the trend is continuing.

Kathleen O'Brien, from the AIHW's Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Unit, said the growing use of antidiabetic medicines was consistent with the increasing number of Australians being diagnosed with type two diabetes.

About seven per cent of Australian adults have type two diabetes, which has been called the "lifestyle disease" and is often blamed on obesity and poor diet.

According to the AIHW, 89 per cent of men and 64 per cent of women with type two diabetes are overweight.

Ms O'Brien said some people with type two diabetes could control their blood glucose through lifestyle measures alone, but some required medication, and all sufferers of type one diabetes required insulin.

An estimated 75 per cent of Australians with either type one or type two diabetes used insulin or other medications to manage their condition.

"Diabetes is a chronic condition that can have a major impact on life expectancy and quality of life, especially if undetected or improperly controlled," Ms O'Brien said.

"A healthy diet and regular exercise are important in managing blood glucose levels.

"Along with avoiding smoking and maintaining good control of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, these lifestyle approaches also help reduce the risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke."

The report also investigated medication used to control diabetes complications such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol and found use of those medications had also increased.

Other complications of diabetes include coronary heart disease, diabetic eye disease, kidney disease and circulatory problems that can lead to foot ulcers and lower limb amputations.

A report published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia found half of all diabetics also have chronic kidney disease.

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