Monday, June 12, 2006

Many unaware they have diabetes until very late

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Some 3.5 million Malaysians are diabetic and the health authorities are worried. Ten years ago, the number of people with the disease was 2.2 million.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital consultant pulmonary and critical care physician Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said: "Looking at the lifestyle of Malaysians, health experts are estimating at least 13 to 15 per cent of the population to be diabetic as compared with 8.8 per cent in 1996."
What was especially worrying, he said, was that many Malaysians were not aware they were diabetic until they suffered a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney failure, eye diseases or nerve damage.
Some 40 per cent of those suffering heart attacks were diabetic, he added.
Diabetes is a condition where there is an abnormally high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. This is because the body produces little or insufficient insulin.
According to data released by the International Diabetes Federation on Saturday, the number of people around the world suffering from diabetes has skyrocketed in the last two decades, from 30 million to 230 million.
It has claimed millions of lives and severely taxed the ability of healthcare systems to deal with the epidemic.
China has the largest number of diabetics over the age of 20, around 39 million people, or about 2.7 per cent of the adult population.
The federation said India had the second largest number of cases, with an estimated 30 million people, or about six per cent of the adult population.
There are many factors driving the growth in diabetes worldwide, but most experts agree that changes in lifestyle and diet are the chief culprits.
Dr Jeyaindran said: "Basically the main reason Malaysians suffer from diabetes is their lifestyle.
"Many do not exercise regularly and prefer to use lifts and escalators instead of walking.
"The young love fast food, fried food, chips and carbonated drinks."
He said Malaysians, especially the young, spent more time on indoor activities, putting them at risk of developing diabetes.
Dr Jeyaindran advised Malaysians to be careful about what they ate and to exercise regularly.

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