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Monday, 14 June 2010

Diabetes Week 2010

This week is Diabetes week, an annual nationwide awareness week organised by Diabetes UK with the aim of raising awareness about diabetes and the issues people living with the condition face.

Diabetes Cymru UK are raising awareness this week about the key myths about diabetes, and have asked me to share some key facts and statistics with readers of this blog.

Diabetes costs the NHS in Wales £500m a year and is increasing rapidly.

According to the latest QOF statistics, released in September 2009, more than 146,000people in Wales – almost one in 20 people – have been diagnosed with diabetes. This figure had risen by more than 7,000 compared to the previous year’s statistics. The Welsh Assembly Government estimates that a further 50,000 people in Wales have undiagnosed diabetes.

Around 90 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Usually diagnosed over the age of 40, the condition happens when the body stops making enough insulin or when it cannot use the insulin it produces. Eighty per cent of cases of the condition are associated with being overweight, but other risk factors for the condition are having a large waist and having a close family history of the condition. Being from a black or South Asian background makes people more likely to develop the condition and people from these communities are at risk of the condition from the age of 25. Type 2 diabetes can be treated with diet and exercise, tablets or insulin injections (30 per cent of people with the condition are treated with insulin injections). Many people with Type 2 diabetes assume that it is not as serious as Type 1. In fact, both conditions are serious.

Around 10 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes. This condition happens when the body stops producing any insulin and is usually diagnosed in childhood and under the age of 40. It is not associated with lifestyle and cannot be prevented. Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin injections or an insulin pump, a device which constantly infuses fast-acting insulin into the body.

The complications of diabetes are heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, visual problems that can lead to blindness, and amputation. People with diabetes can reduce their risk of developing these complications by eating a healthy, balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping active, taking their prescribed medications and keeping their blood glucose levels within the recommended levels.

People can live with diabetes for up to 10 years before it is diagnosed, which means half of these people already have developed the complications of diabetes. Many people can miss the symptoms of diabetes as they can often be mistaken for getting older and being stressed. The key symptoms of diabetes are going to the toilet more often to pass water (particularly at night), extreme tiredness, blurred vision, genital itching, regular episodes of thrush and slow-healing wounds.

People from deprived communities are up to twice as likely to develop diabetes. In Wales, there is a big variation of the percentage of the population diagnosed with the condition in different areas. According to the latest QOF statistics, Blaenau Gwent has the highest percentage of the population diagnosed with diabetes at 5.8 per cent. This is significantly higher than the area with the lowest percentage, Cardiff, which has 3.6 per cent of the population diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes UK Cymru provides advice, support and information for people with diabetes and their families and funds research into diabetes. The charity also does a series of talks for GPs every year and organises an annual conference for healthcare professionals in Wales.

For more information, contact 029 2066 8276, email or visit The charity can also be found on Facebook and Twitter at

I wish them the best of luck with raising awareness this week!

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