All through November it is Diabetes Awareness Month, which aims to improve people’s understanding of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. On November 14th, the world acknowledges World Diabetes Day.
The World Health Organization states that the incidence of diabetes is a growing global issue. They state that the number of people with diabetes around the world has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes).
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) occurs when the body cannot produce insulin. Only about 1 in 10 people are Type 1 diabetic. The specific cause of type 1 diabetes is not known, although it is thought to be an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas. It is not preventable with current knowledge.
Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly and people are often diagnosed in childhood.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent, or adult-onset) occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin, or is unable to use it effectively. Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent type of diabetes, being mostly diagnosed in adults. Risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes include being overweight and a lack of physical inactivity.
Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen.
Diabetes Awareness Month
The focus of awareness of this year is the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. Examples of cardiovascular disease include: coronary heart disease where the flow of oxygen to the heart is compromised; strokes caused by either bleeds on the brain or ischaemic attacks; and peripheral arterial disease where there are blockages in the arteries usually to the legs. For people living with diabetes, having high blood glucose levels over time leads to damage to the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. However other risk factors for cardiovascular disease also tend to be seen in many people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes, such as obesity, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol.
Statistics from the American Heart Association website (www.heart.org) state that people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease compared to those without diabetes. And at least 68 percent of people age 65 or older with diabetes die from some form of heart disease; and 16% die of stroke.
However the chance of developing heart disease can be lessened, especially for people with diabetes, if they make some healthier lifestyle choices. These include: ensuring that their blood glucose levels remain within acceptable limits; not smoking; eating a balanced diet; exercising regularly