Irish Face “National Crisis” with Diabetes Numbers Rising
Irelandis facing a diabetes “national crisis”, and one of the major problems is ignorance. A study has shown one in three Irish people has a family member with diabetes and half of all lower limb amputations in the last five years were due to diabetes. Yet awareness of the symptoms is low in the Emerald Isle and health authorities have been criticized for inaction.
It is estimated that the Irish Health Service Executive spent more than 239 million Euros between 2005 and 2009 on treating mainly preventable foot disease – including carrying out amputations – caused by diabetes. Diabetes Action, a group formed recently to pressure the Irish Government to recognize the problem and take steps to improve its tactics, says current strategies are inadequate. The group has famously criticized current services as “Half the Services, Half the Care” needed.
The Irish market researchers Behaviour & Attitudes carried out a recent study commissioned by the Diabetes Federation of Ireland and the international healthcare company Sanofi. The team interviewed more than 700 Irish citizens and some of their findings were grim.
One in three Irish people has a diabetic in their family, with one in five being type 2 diabetes, the often preventable version of the disease. Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity and poor lifestyle and improving these can drastically reduce your chances of developing the disease. Seventy-seven pervent of Irish people know someone who is diabetic, yet knowledge of symptoms is sketchy, said the report.
The Diabetes Federation estimate there are around 180,000 diabetics inIreland, but this number, made up of type 1 and type 2 diabetics, is predicted to rise to 233,000 by 2020.
Diabetes Federation medical director Prof Seamus Sreenan described the figures as “a national crisis.Diabetes is everywhere in Ireland,” he said. “It’s in urban and rural communities, in rich areas and less well-off areas.”
The study showed that awareness of diabetic symptoms is low among the Irish, with just 46% being aware that diabetes can lead to blindness but only 18% knowing it can necessitate amputations because of nerve damage, and just 16% being aware of the dangers of kidney failure. Most Irish citizens were aware that being overweight and taking insufficient exercise were risk factors, but few knew that being aged over 45 was one of the risks.
However, one of the most worrying facts is that it takes 12 years for the average diabetic to be diagnosed, meaning health complications have in many cases already happened, said Prof Sreenan. An estimated 146,000 Irish have the condition known as metabolic syndrome, or pre-diabetes, and could go on to develop full blown diabetes in five years if not treated.
Diabetes Action has criticized the lack of podiatry services, withIrelandhaving the lowest numbers of podiatrists inEurope. They say too many cases of preventable diabetic complications are going untreated, often leading to people losing feet and lower legs.
Publication of the study findings has been timed to synchronize with new clinical testing methods for diabetes testing. The alterations to the HbA1c glucose tests will give better and more accurate results.
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