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Diabetes not taken seriously by UK public, says Diabetes UK

CONCERNS: 12.3m people in UK at risk of Type 2 diabetes, yet public unaware of the devastating health complications (Photo credit: iStock)

DIABETES IS a serious condition that can lead to devastating health complications, but new research by Diabetes UK reveals that only a small percentage of the British public are aware of how life-changing this condition can be.

A new survey by Walnut Unlimited, which spoke to 1,000 people with and without a link to diabetes shows the extent of this lack of awareness, with only two per percent spontaneously saying a stroke, kidney damage (4 per cent) and heart disease (6 per cent) are complications of diabetes.

Despite amputation and blindness being prevalent diabetes-related complications, only one in four (25 per cent) people surveyed said, unprompted, that they were linked to diabetes. Furthermore, the survey found that no one spontaneously knew diabetes could cause problems in pregnancy and only 2 per cent knew diabetes could lead to a shorter life span or early death (4 per cent).

Evidence shows just how serious this condition can be. The recent National Diabetes Audit (NDA) into Complications and Mortality shows that people with diabetes are 32 per cent more likely to die prematurely than people without diabetes, due largely to the health complications resulting from diabetes.

Additional figures from Public Health England show there were 8,793 amputations a year on average between 2014 and 2017 which equates to 169 amputations each week, or one every hour. The number of minor amputations, which includes a toe, heel or foot also continues to rise each year.

Similarly, more than 1,600 people have their sight seriously affected by their diabetes every year in the UK. This means around 30 people a week develop sight loss due to their diabetes.

Diabetes is a significant health crisis, and it is on the rise. Analysis from Diabetes UK shows the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years. There are now 3.7 million people in the UK living with a diabetes diagnosis (90 per cent have Type 2 diabetes) and around 12.3 million people are at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. The condition now affects more people than any other serious health condition in the UK – more than dementia and cancer combined.

However, diabetes-related complications can be prevented or delayed with early diagnosis, support and education to ensure the condition is managed correctly. To support this, Diabetes UK has launched a new campaign called ‘Be in the know’ which aims to raise awareness of the devastating complications associated with diabetes.

Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Losing a limb, eyesight or having a stroke is devastating and often life-changing. It is vital people with diabetes receive the right support from their healthcare teams to help them identify any early signs of a complication.

“Many complications can be prevented or delayed so it is incredibly important that people with diabetes are vigilant and contact their GP as soon as possible if they have any concerns.”

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