Diabetes is the single most important metabolic disease which can affect nearly every organ system in the body. It has been projected that 300 million individuals would be affected with diabetes by the year 2025. In India it is estimated that presently 19.4 million individuals are affected by this deadly disease, which is likely to go up to 57.2 million by the year 2025.
The reasons for this escalation are due to changes in lifestyle; people living longer than before (ageing) and low birth weight could lead to diabetes during adulthood. Diabetes related complications are coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy, etc. People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to develop blindness, 17 times more likely to develop kidney disease, 30-40 times more likely to undergo amputation, two to four times more likely to develop myocardial infarction and twice as likely to suffer a stroke than non-diabetics. Lifestyle modifications, inclusive of dietary modification, regular physical activity and weight reduction are indicated for prevention of diabetes.
The world’s largest diabetes epidemic is threatening India, which is ill-equipped to cope, say experts. The amount of type II, or adult-onset diabetes in Indian cities is high, and rising, suggests health data. India has a population of more than a billion, and its citizens appear prone to developing diabetes later in life, and are certainly more vulnerable to its complications such as high blood pressure leading to coronary heart disease. Part of the blame falls on the adoption of a more Western lifestyle, involving fatty food and too little exercise. Obesity is a known risk factor for the development of diabetes.
Dr Vikram Seshaiah, Medical Director of the Diabetes Unit with the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, told the annual conference of the Association of Physicians of India: “By 2005, we will have 30 to 35 million diabetics in India, and every fifth diabetic in the world will be Indian. “Epidemiological data shows that now only the prevalence of type II diabetes is very high in the urban population, but it is also increasing.” Another worry confronting the Indian health authorities is the relatively young age at which diabetes is being diagnosed in many patients. A study of complications in more than 3000 diabetics by the Diabetes Research Centre in Chennai showed that many had suffered eye, nerve or other tissue damage by the time diagnosis was made. The risk factors for the increasing prevalence among Asian Indians included high racial susceptibility, central obesity and insulin resistance even with a low Body Mass Index. “There are a number of people dying of diabetes, as insulin is either not available or unaffordable.” Following a healthy lifestyle, exercising and following precautions were extremely important to prevent the onset of the disease.
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