What you need to know about one of the most com­mon health is­sues

South Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A RE­PORT re­leased by the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare re­veals the ris­ing risk that di­a­betes poses, par­tic­u­larly to older Aus­tralians.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the ABS, about one in six peo­ple aged older than 65 re­ports hav­ing di­a­betes – just more than 574,000 peo­ple. The in­ci­dence of the disease in­creases with age, with the high­est preva­lence re­ported in peo­ple aged 85 and older.

What is di­a­betes?

The AIHW de­fines di­a­betes as a chronic con­di­tion char­ac­terised by high lev­els of glu­cose in the blood.

It is caused by an in­abil­ity to pro­duce in­sulin (a hor­mone pro­duced to con­trol blood su­gar), or an in­abil­ity to use in­sulin ef­fec­tively.

Type 1 di­a­betes

Type 1 di­a­betes is an un­pre­ventable, au­toim­mune disease that de­vel­ops when the im­mune sys­tem de­stroys in­sulin-pro­duc­ing cells.

The ex­act cause re­mains a mys­tery, al­though it is be­lieved to re­sult from ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors.

This type of di­a­betes can de­velop at any age.

In­sulin re­place­ment is an es­sen­tial treat­ment for type 1 di­a­betes and re­quires a care­ful bal­ance of diet, ex­er­cise and in­sulin in­take.

Type 2 di­a­betes

Type 2 di­a­betes oc­curs when the body be­comes in­sulin-re­sis­tant and/or the amount of in­sulin pro­duced does not meet the body’s needs. While hav­ing cer­tain ge­netic sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ties, type 2 di­a­betes is largely pre­ventable as many of its risk fac­tors re­late to healthy life­style choices, which can be mod­i­fied.

The risk fac­tors in­clude obe­sity, in­suf­fi­cient phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, un­healthy diet, tobacco smok­ing, high blood pres­sure and high blood lipids.

When first di­ag­nosed, a type 2 di­a­betic’s blood glu­cose lev­els can of­ten be main­tained through life­style mod­i­fi­ca­tion or med­i­ca­tion, al­though in­sulin may even­tu­ally be re­quired as the con­di­tion pro­gresses.

In older pa­tients, man­ag­ing this type of di­a­betes with med­i­ca­tion can pose chal­lenges.

Sadly, this pre­ventable ill­ness was over­whelm­ingly the most com­mon type of di­a­betes re­ported by peo­ple aged 65 and older, ac­count­ing for more than nine out of 10 cases.

Ges­ta­tional di­a­betes

Ges­ta­tional di­a­betes is a less com­mon con­di­tion marked by high blood su­gar lev­els ap­pear­ing dur­ing preg­nancy that usu­ally dis­ap­pear fol­low­ing the birth.

Much like type 2 di­a­betes, it is as­so­ci­ated with life­style fac­tors and is treated with a com­bi­na­tion of life­style mod­i­fi­ca­tions and med­i­ca­tion.

The dam­age caused

Di­a­betes can lead to a mul­ti­tude of health con­di­tions, in­clud­ing heart at­tack and stroke, kid­ney dam­age, vi­sion loss, nerve dam­age and de­layed wound heal­ing, which can re­sult in lower limb am­pu­ta­tion.

Ev­i­dence sug­gests that early and in­ten­sive man­age­ment of blood su­gar lev­els can de­lay the on­set or slow the pro­gres­sion of these com­pli­ca­tions.

Di­a­betes was recorded as a di­ag­no­sis in more than 1 mil­lion hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions in 2014-15, rep­re­sent­ing 10 per cent of all hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions.

In 2014, di­a­betes was the sixth lead­ing cause of death in Aus­tralia, claim­ing 15,700 lives and ac­count­ing for 10 per cent of all deaths.

It was the un­der­ly­ing cause for 4300 of these deaths and listed as an as­so­ci­ated cause for the re­main­ing 11,400.

Di­a­betes death rates in­crease with age, and for peo­ple aged 85 years and older the rate is three times as high as it is for those aged 75-84.

CHECK YOUR LEV­ELS: Di­a­betes can lead to a mul­ti­tude of health con­di­tions.

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