Diabetes mellitus is a long-term medical illness which has achieved epidemic numbers worldwide. According to WHO (World Health Organization), in 2012 an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose. It has increased dramatically as result of growing affluence with accompanying obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
Diabetes is a condition where one has high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) as a result of inadequate insulin production or insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and is required for the glucose to move into the cells. The body cells require glucose to generate energy however for people with diabetes, the glucose stays in the blood instead of being turned into energy by the body cells.
There are two types of Diabetes: Type1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin. Type 2 diabetes develops when insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes is much more common when compared with Type 1. Type 2 diabetes usually affects adults more than 40 years old with obesity and physical inactivity and increasing the risk significantly.
How Bad it is?
Diabetes is among the top 10 causes of death in the world. Besides being a cause of premature death , diabetes can cause an earlier onset of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, limb amputations, loss of vision and nerve damage. In 2014 about 1 in 2 heart attack patients had diabetes; 2 out of 3 new kidney failure cases due to diabetes; 2 in 5 stroke cases had diabetes and there were over 1500 amputations per year due to complications arising from diabetes.
Unfortunately there is no cure for diabetes at the present moment. However, it is important to adopt measures to avoid or delay the onset of possibly devastating complications. Good sugar control ( HbA1c 7% or less ) can be achieved with combination of dietary and lifestyle modifications. Optimal blood pressure less than 140/90 mmHg will also reduce the risk of developing complications. A healthy and a diet with low glycemic index is essential. Engaging in suitable amounts of physical activity and exercise as well avoidance of obesity and maintenance of a healthy body weight will be helpful.
Taking active steps to prevent diabetes to prevent diabetes and complications arising from diabetes is of paramount importance and should not be taken lightly in the fight against the silent killer.