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Diabetes, The Silent Killer of New Zealand

s are believed to be afflicted with the deadly disease, and more than 300, 000 are thought to have pre-diabetes. The irony is that nearly 50% of those suffering from diabetes do not even know that they have the disease.

Obesity is an important risk factor for diabetes. Men above the age of 45 or women above 55 years of age are more likely to develop diabetes. Maori and Pacific Islanders are at particularly increased risk, as they tend to develop the condition 10 years earlier than their counterparts.

A combination of genetic and environmental factors can be blamed for causing type-2 diabetes. The increase in proportion of the aging population, the variation in the ethnic constitution of the country and increase in obesity are responsible for this alarmingly high incidence of type-2 diabetes in New Zealand. With 1 in 5 New Zealanders being obese, this number is only expected to increase in the forth-coming years.

In New Zealand alone, more than 70 people lose their eyesight and another 500 have their limbs amputated owing to diabetic complications. The key to effective management of diabetes is therefore early diagnosis/detection and maintenance of blood sugar level at an optimal level to prevent damage to other organs. Despite widespread research, there is no guaranteed cure for the disease. Exercise, diet, tablet and insulin therefore continue to be the gold standard.

It has been established that the risk of heart attack in a diabetic is comparable to the risk of a patient who has had a heart attack previously. 'That's saying if you've got diabetes, your risk of having a heart attack is the same as someone just walking out of the coronary care unit,' says Orr-Walker, a leading physician.

'Patients with diabetes are more likely to have adverse events, more likely to get infections and to require more nursing care,' remarked Dr. David Simmons of the Waikato Hospital.

With health professionals jus
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