4.7 million people in the UK have diabetes. Someone is diagnosed every two minutes.
However, 12.3 million people are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK.
What is Diabetes?
There are two types of Diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, 8% have type 1 while 2% have rarer types.
Type 1 diabetes – where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.
Type 2 diabetes – where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Are you at risk?
Around three in five cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and being active.
There are several risk factors that cannot be changed, men are slightly more at risk then women. Those with family members who have diabetes or if you’re from a black or South Asian background also puts you at risk.
However, there are a number of risk factors that can be controlled. Risk becomes a lot higher by being overweight, especially around the belly. Risk is also increased if there is a history of high blood pressure.
These can easily be addressed through diet and exercise. To get some tips on exercise routines click here.
Diabetes.org have created a risk assessment to understand if you could be at risk of type 2 diabetes. Follow this link to understand your personal risk: https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start
What can happen if I do have diabetes?
There are a number of serious complications with diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes are 2.5 times more likely to have a heart attack or to experience heart failure, they are also 2 times more likely to have a stroke. Other more serious complications from diabetes include a loss of eyesight and a loss of circulation, which can sometimes lead to amputation. Currently at least 10,350 people have end stage kidney failure due to diabetes.
But it’s important to remember that type 2 diabetes is preventable and, in some cases, reversable.
What to do if you think you’re at risk or think you may have type 2 diabetes
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet and to exercise. The NHS recommendation is to maintain physical activity of at least 30 minutes every day. You can view their recommendations here. Your GP will be able to provide you with further information and give you a complete diagnosis via a number of routine tests.
If you think you are at risk or could have type 2 diabetes it is important to see your GP as soon as possible so that treatment, where necessary, can be started. During COVID-19 your GP will be able to asses you remotely before deciding if you need to have a face-to-face appointment.