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12,000 over 50s 'don't know they have diabetes'

Published 10/11/2015

One in ten of the population of Ireland aged 50 and over - around 120,000 adults - have type 2 diabetes
One in ten of the population of Ireland aged 50 and over - around 120,000 adults - have type 2 diabetes

As many as 12,000 older Irish people are unaware they have life-threatening diabetes.

New research shows men are more likely to have the condition than women, and people living outside Dublin are more likely to go undiagnosed.

The study found one in ten of the population aged 50 and over - around 120,000 adults - have type 2 diabetes.

Around 10% of these cases go undiagnosed.

The lifelong condition, which causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high, gets progressively worse if left untreated.

It is a leading cause of death and disability in Ireland and is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure, kidney disease and falls.

It is more common in men (12%) than women (7%) and its prevalence rises as a person gets older.

The research was carried as part of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, led by Trinity College Dublin.

Report author Dr Siobhan Leahy said the findings confirm for the first time the total number of type 2 diabetes cases in older Irish people.

"While efforts are underway to improve care and access to services for those with diabetes a significant number of older adults with diabetes remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated," she said.

"Lifestyle factors are clearly associated with diabetes and pre-diabetes and public health campaigns promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle may help reduce the future incidence of diabetes in Ireland and lessen complications in those with diagnosed diabetes."

It is estimated that diabetes and related conditions account for 10% of healthcare spending in Ireland.

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