Unchecked diabetes can be fatal

Unchecked diabetes can be fatal
– By Dr V. Mohan

Diabetes has assumed epidemic proportions. India has the highest number of diabetic patients (31.7 million in 2000), and the numbers are expected to swell to 79.4 million by 2030. These are alarming portents and if adequate precautions are not taken, we will be grappling with a major health problem. Two major studies, the Chennai Urban Population Study (CUPS) and Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study (CURES) conducted by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation has revealed some disturbing trends.

In the CUPS study 12 per cent of individuals above the age of 20 were found to be affected by diabetes. The CURES study, found that the figure had jumped to 15.5 per cent. We are now being forced to take comprehensive steps to prevent the spread of the disease. People above the age of 30 should ideally undergo a glucose tolerance test. If diabetes is detected at early stages, it may be possible to halt its progression. Since diabetes is mostly a hereditary disease, it is imperative for people coming from diabetic families to undertake the test. Those who discover that diabetes has set in should strive to achieve good control. The first 10 years of the diabetic? life are perhaps the most important and if good control is maintained during this period, most patients can escape severe complications later. If untreated and uncontrolled, diabetes can affect several vital organs like the nervous system, eyes, heart, kidney and even the legs. Diabetic patients are also more prone to high blood pressure and enlargement of the heart.

(The writer is chairman and chief diabetologist Dr Mohans?M.V. Diabetes Specialities Centre & Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in Chennai)

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