Monday, 6 January 2020

Diabetes - Going blind/losing limbs. Are you at risk?

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Type 2 Diabetes means the body can no longer maintain healthy blood sugar levels through production of the hormone Insulin.

Recent figures released by the NHS show that nearly 200 Type 2 Diabetes patients a day are going blind or losing limbs.  Health chief Simon Stevens warned that the nation's expanding waistlines are "taking a growing toll".

One person every three minutes is now diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. It is one of the leading causes of blindness, amputation, impotence and heart disease, but is largely preventable. Surgeons are carrying out a record 25 amputations daily on patients with Type 2 Diabetes.  Figures show that four out of five people will die within five years of having a leg, foot or toe removed.  A further 161 patients a day require urgent treatment, or follow-up tests, for sight problems caused by Type 2 Diabetes.

However - and here is the crux - NHS chiefs claim that the vast majority of cases could be avoided if the patients lost some excess weight. That, therefore, comes down to our own responsibility, and our own choices around nutrition and exercise. We cannot blame anyone else.

When average blood sugar rises to harmful levels (usually described as 6.5% of 48mmol/moll HbA1c, a measure of long-term blood sugar control - I realise this is very technical, but it is good to get the science right), people are then diagnosed with Diabetes.

While improved diet and exercise is recommended, most people with diabetes are treated with anti-diabetic medicines to manage their blood sugar. The aim is to prevent the development of complications such as heart disease, leg ulcers and eye damage.  Many factors affect the development of Type 2 Diabetes, but it often accompanies weight gain.

In recent years, doctors have noticed that some obese patients who lose a lot of weight, whether through low calories diets or weight loss surgery, have blood sugar levels that drop back to normal, and stay that way without diabetes medicines. So it is possible, with a change in routine and lifestyle, to reverse the diagnosis.

We can all do our bit. You know if you are overweight or obese. Just look in a mirror. You can change your nutrition, and adjust the amount of physical activity. Always look to improve and make healthy changes. Adjust your daily routine. Give yourself a regular six month check up. People give their cars a yearly MOT, but do nothing with their body, which is so important to living a happy and healthy life.

Why not make this week, this second week of 2020, the start of that journey. It is one that will last the rest of your life, but is probably the most important task for this year. It's your choice. But do it now, before you are diagnosed, and possible lose a limb or your sight. It is that important.



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