National Diabetes Week 14-20 July


It’s diabetes week and it’s a great time to reflect on where we are at with type 2 diabetes at the moment. First some statistics to get you in the mood or at least pique your interest in why this disease is grabbing the headlines so often these days. An estimated 1.2 million (6%) of Australian adults aged 18 and over had type 2 diabetes in 2014-15, based on self-reported data and from the Australian Bureau of statistics (ABS) National Health Survey. So to put that into perspective, if you’re in a restaurant with 99 other diners, a staggering 6 of you will have the disease. Some 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. That comes to one person every 5 minutes in that land of too much milk and honey! For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also “lives with diabetes” every day in a support role. This means a staggering 2.4 million Australian are affected by the disease. The annual cost of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6!!! Feeling a bit uneasy? I’m not surprised.

Let me make you really feel ill at ease!

Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia. How about amputations? There are more than 4,400 of them performed on diabetics every year in Australia. Every year 100 diabetics die because of foot ulcers and lower limb wounds with 10,000 hospital admissions for the same reason. Diabetics are between two and four times more likely to develop heart disease. It contributes to almost two thirds of all deaths from diabetes. The commonest cause of kidney failure in Australia is diabetes. The message in all this is that paella don’t die from diabetes, they die from the complications of the disease.

The issues surrounding diabetes are as long as they are complicated and unfortunately more and more of us are succumbing to the disease as we grow faster and less active. We can all do things to reduce risk of diabetes. Simple regular exercise regimes associated with a moderate food intake and maintaining weight at a reasonable level will go a long way to reducing risk factors for developing diabetes while making you feel better at the same time!

The other good news is we have a lot of new classes of drugs which are not only effective at controlling diabetes but also help to reduce weight, blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, heart failure, kidney disease and also death. The management of diabetes in the 21st century requires the GP to ensure the right medications 9if they are needed) are given to their diabetic patients according to what concurrent medical conditions are present at the time of therapeutic management decisions.

It is an exciting time to be a GP interested in diabetes, we have lots of new drugs with specific indications that will help patients reduce the risk of long term diabetic complications. Of course, the management of this complicated and potentially dangerous condition requires a partnership between the patient and the GP to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved. This is brought about by significant and lasting lifestyle changes associated with the judicious use of the right medications as well as regular surveillance.

The good news is diabetes doesn’t need to be considered as a death sentence as long as everyone is on the same page and it’s all hands on deck!!!


Dr Peter Hay