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Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition whereby the level of glucose in the blood is too high. Glucose comes from the food we eat, and normally insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, allows the glucose to enter the body’s cells, where it provides energy. If you have diabetes, your body cannot make enough insulin to process this glucose, so it builds up in the blood. Unfortunately, prolonged high levels of blood sugar causes a number of health problems, some of which can be very serious.

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes, which develops when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed, meaning the body is unable to produce any insulin. It can develop at any age but is more common in childhood - it is often called juvenile diabetes - and usually appears before the age of 40. Treatment is normally by daily injections of insulin, diet and exercise.
  • Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body does not produce enough insulin, or does not respond adequately to what it does produce, otherwise known as insulin resistance. This accounts for almost all cases of diabetes – around 90% – and is treated by increased exercise and improved diet. However medication, and often added insulin, is usually required.

Left untreated or unmanaged, both forms of the disease can have serious, or even fatal, consequences. Diabetes is now one of the leading causes of death, due to the substantial increase it causes in the risk of cardiovascular disease. It can also cause kidney failure, blindness, morbid obesity and sharply increase the risk of leg amputation. Given the range and seriousness of these complications, the overall economic impact of diabetes is huge. It places a substantial burden on healthcare systems, as well as costs from loss of productivity from diabetes sufferers unable to work.

Diabetes is also a problem that is on the increase. According to the International Diabetes Federation, almost 650,000 people in Europe – around 8.6% of the population - suffer from the disease, a figure which is predicted to rise by 20% by 2030.

The best way to manage diabetes – if it cannot be avoided in the first place – is early diagnosis, accurate monitoring and effective treatment. This can improve the longevity and quality of life, and can sharply reduce the financial cost of the complications. Thanks to the medical technology industry, diabetes sufferers have access to a wide variety of self monitoring tools: blood glucose test strips, blood glucose monitors, lancets and biosensors. Patients can now perform their testing at home and visit their doctors only when really needed.

Medical technology has also made good insulin adherence much easier. This gives better control of blood glucose levels, which is a key component in reducing the impact of the disease. The advent of improved syringes, with shorter, smaller needles, pre-loaded injector pens, transdermal patches and external or implantable pumps have made insulin treatment much less unpleasant and easier to manage.

Early detection and treatment of diabetics eye disease with laser therapy can reduce development of severe vision loss by an estimated 50% to 60%.

Intensive controls of glucose levels can lead to:

  • A reduction of 76% in new eye disease risk
  • 54% in early kidney disease
  • 60% in nerve damage risk.
  • Heart disease risk could be reduced by 56%