Diabetes risk is explained

Alarming statistics: Twenty-eight people are diagnosed with both types of diabetes every day in WA. Photo: Shutterstock.
Alarming statistics: Twenty-eight people are diagnosed with both types of diabetes every day in WA. Photo: Shutterstock.

West Australians are being urged to put their health first during National Diabetes Week this week.

Running from July 14-20 throughout Australia, this year's campaign theme is "It's About Time" in an effort to raise awareness of all types of diabetes and how it affects those that are living with it.

Twenty-eight people are diagnosed with both types of diabetes every day in WA, while up to 200,000 residents may be unaware they are living with type 2 diabetes, according to data from the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

Statistics indicate the condition is prevalent throughout the state with an average of 3.8 per cent of the population living with type 2 diabetes alone.

This is lower than the current national average, which stands at 4.1 per cent.

Diabetes WA health services and evaluation general manager Deb Schofield said for every person living with type 2 diabetes, there was another person living with the condition without being diagnosed.

"People may not have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, they may not recognise the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and/or may not be having regular health checks," she said.

"Early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is very important because 60 per cent of people who are diagnosed early can walk away from type 2 diabetes by changing their diet and exercise routine.

"Early diagnosis, and well-managed diabetes, will prevent further health complications of type 2 diabetes. It is the leading cause of blindness, kidney damage, amputation, heart attack and stroke."

As part of National Diabetes Week, Diabetes Australia are adamant the time is up to act to save lives and save hospitals.

Diabetes Australia chief executive Professor Greg Johnson said diabetes was overwhelming the Australian health system with a very high rate of diabetes-related admissions to hospitals around the country.

"Diabetes will cripple our health system unless we take urgent, comprehensive action and that's why we are saying 'It's About Time' people get checked for type 2 diabetes early, and 'It's About Time' our health system got serious about reducing the high rate of hospital admissions for diabetes," he said.

"Every year diabetes is associated with more than one million hospitalisations but it doesn't have to be like this.

"Earlier detection and optimal early treatment can reduce the risk of people developing diabetes-related complications, which account for many of these hospitalisations, by up to 37 per cent."

Each year, 640 Australians end up in hospital with extremely high blood glucose levels because the early signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes are not recognised in time.

Additionally, around the country, more than 30 per cent of hospital beds are occupied by people with diabetes.

Acting WA health minister Bill Johnston said he encouraged West Australians to "enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle".

"We live in a beautiful state, try to get out and take regular exercise," he said.

"Stay active, eat a balanced diet and have regular check-ups with your GP because your health matters. It is vital that individuals with diabetes manage their condition carefully, not just to prevent hospital admissions, but for the benefit of their own health and wellbeing."

WA shadow health minister Zak Kirkup said National Diabetes Week was a "great opportunity" to raise awareness of the condition and its symptoms.

"During this week, people are prompted to think about their health and talk to a Diabetes WA educator or meet with their own health professional to discuss any concerns or issues they may have," he said.

"We know that if diabetes is not properly managed, it can have a detrimental impact on people's lives.

"That's why it's so vital that people manage their diabetes because if they don't, their health can be put at serious risk."

Diabetes WA is encouraging locals to learn more about the condition and its symptoms with an extensive calendar of upcoming information sessions and workshops in locations throughout the state. For more information, call 1300 001 880 or visit the website.