Belfast Telegraph

Experts warn of diabetes crisis

Health experts have warned that diabetes is reaching national crisis level after new research showed one third of families in Ireland have a relative suffering from the disease.

The Diabetes Federation of Ireland said there are an estimated 30,000 people living with undetected diabetes.

Professor Seamus Sreenan, consultant endocrinologist and medical director of Diabetes Federation of Ireland, warned that on average there is a 12-year delay in people being diagnosed.

"We have been saying it for years, but these figures really bring the message home - diabetes is everywhere in Ireland," he said.

"It's in urban and rural communities, in rich areas and less well-off areas. We're facing a national crisis."

A survey has shown nine out of 10 people with diabetes say developing a complicating illness as a result of their condition is their biggest fear. Some 1,970 people with the disease had a lower-limb amputation during 2005 to 2010 - half the total figure.

Prof Sreenan said a wide range of symptoms make it difficult for people to spot a problem and seek treatment early.

"Unfortunately, many people are only diagnosed after they have already suffered a complicating illness of diabetes such as a heart attack or stroke and often when the symptoms of diabetes are pointed out to them they recognise maybe two or more," he said.

A report by the World Health Organisation last month warned about the levels of deaths in Ireland associated with diabetes and urged more be done to manage the disease. The study revealed that cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes account for almost 90% of deaths.

The figures on diabetes levels in Ireland, from a survey of 745 people in September, were released to coincide with a new Know Your Numbers campaign to promote changes in how diabetes is measured from next January. It is a joint initiative involving the Diabetes Federation of Ireland, healthcare company Sanofi, the Health Service Executive, and the Irish Pharmacy Union.

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