Diabetes NSW is raising alarm bells that up to 500,000 Australians may be walking around oblivious to the fact they have type 2 diabetes, and a further 2 million are dangerously at risk of developing the life‐threating condition.
The warning comes on World Health Day, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared is focused on ‘beating diabetes’.
The global urgency is acute: if diabetes were a country, it would be the world’s third largest with a population of 347 million.
‘We must learn to read the signs better, in ourselves and our loved ones – the cost is too high,’ said Sturt Eastwood, Diabetes NSW CEO.
‘Tired or thirsty a lot? Darkened skin spots? A bruise that just won’t heal? These are all signs you may be undiagnosed and at dangerous risk of developing lifelong health issues.
‘Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia – it kills more of us than breast, prostate and brain cancer combined in any one year and costs our health system $14.6 billion a year, a number that will blow out to $30 billion by 20253 if we don’t start reading the signs, and stopping it,’ he said.
Today, 1 in 10 Australians die from type 2 diabetes related illnesses.
Five type 2 diabetes-related amputations happen every day in NSW hospitals alone, according to Diabetes NSW.
When left undiagnosed, common symptoms such as slow to heal cuts, leg cramps and increased urine passing may rapidly develop into serious complications leading to amputations, kidney failure and death.
Lower to middle income worst hit
Type 2 diabetes is endemic around Australia and annual mapping highlights that type 2 diabetes is now entrenched in lower to middle income areas, including Western Sydney.
The ABC recently reported on a six-week pilot study conducted at Blacktown Hospital emergency unit that found 40 per cent of patients blood tested had type 2 diabetes, with a third of those tested not aware they had the condition.
‘We know that up to 58 per cent of type 2 diabetes cases are preventable through lifestyle changes.
‘It requires a coordinated effort from our government, health professionals, employers, the media and individuals themselves to better read the signs, manage and prevent diabetes,’ Mr Eastwood said.
Diabetes NSW urges everyone to see his or her GP to check their Blood Glucose Levels (BGL’s) this World Health Day, or go to www.diabetesnsw.com.au/risktool for help to read the signs.