Halt the rise: beat the burden of diabetes

2016-04-07 06:00
Heart Foundation Photo:

Heart Foundation Photo:

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Today is globally celebrated as World Health Day. This year the focus is on the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) which joins the World Health Organisation to “Halt the rise - Beat Diabetes”.

The burden of diabetes

In South Africa it is estimated that somewhere between 1 and 2 in every 10 adults has diabetes, with a much higher prevalence of 1 in every 4 adults in the ages of 60 and above.

This paints a concerning picture, as the rate of diabetes is growing and poses a big challenge to governments, health services, communities and individuals, leading not only to poor health, disability and premature death, but also impacting on health care costs and loss of productivity.

Diabetes and heart health

With diabetes, prolonged high blood sugar levels can severely compromise every organ system in the body, causing nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, impotence and infections that can lead to amputations. However, heart disease and strokes are actually the biggest killers in those with diabetes.

“Diabetes more than doubles the risk for heart disease or strokes, which is why the HSFSA is joining the fight and emphasizing the importance of preventing diabetes”, further explains Dr Mungal-Singh, CEO of the HSFSA.

Diabetes increases the risk for heart disease directly by high glucose levels damaging the blood vessels, making them more prone to build up and stiffness. This means people with diabetes are more likely to develop atherosclerosis - the narrowing and hardening of blood vessels - at a younger age compared to people without diabetes.

The narrowing and eventual blockage of blood vessels can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

When suffering a heart attack or a stroke, the prognosis is often worse for someone with diabetes than for someone without.

Diabetes and heart disease share very similar root causes - unhealthy lifestyles, inactivity and excess weight.

Five steps to prevent diabetes

.If in doubt, check! The best way to find out if you have diabetes is to have your blood sugar (glucose) level measured.

.Eat healthy - A healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits, and lower amounts of added sugars and unhealthy fats can help prevent type-2 diabetes.

.Be moderately active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

.Don’t smoke! Smoking and diabetes together is dangerous.

.Follow medical advice.

The HSFSA encourages people to find out whether they are at risk, and start making small changes today to live a healthier lifestyle.

  • For more information visit www.heartfoundation.co.za or find them on www.facebook.com/HeartStrokeSA and www.twitter.com/SAHeartStroke

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