KZN is SA’s diabetes hotspot

2014-09-08 00:00

DEATH by diabetes is a growing phenomenon in Pietermaritzburg with experts calling for immediate interventions.

While tuberculosis was considered the largest killer in the city — HIV/Aids and lifestyle diseases rated high.

The results for diabetes, heart and arterial diseases were described as “shocking” by experts.

These findings among others form part of StatsSA’s recently released report “Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2012”.

Jenny Russell, Durban branch manager at Diabetes SA said the “magnitude of diabetes” was being ignored.

“We have approached the state for funding but have been told there is no funding. The statistics are shocking yet largely ignored. There are over 1,2 million known diabetics in KZN,” said Russell.

She said their internal studies showed Durban has the highest rate of diabetes in South Africa.

“Many people suffering from diabetes don’t know they have it and 75-80% of cardiac-related deaths can be connected to diabetes,” said Russell.

She said the disease — once only considered an issue among the elderly — was becoming more prevalent among teenagers and young adults.

“It is a lifestyle disease that although once seen as an ailment of the wealthy is now taking hold in poorer communities. It is not a class issue,” said Russell.

Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSF) science development manager Christelle Crickmore said the findings would have mirrored trends reflective of the city’s diversity.

“The Indian and white Afrikaans communities are more likely to suffer from high cholesterol while the Indian community from diabetes. The African community is sensitive to salt which leads to high blood pressure,” said Crickmore.

Crickmore said “diet and lifestyle” was key to keeping deaths related to the heart under control.

“About a quarter of men and half of women do not exercise enough and 62% of women are considered obese or overweight. Stress does play a role but it is hard to quantify this.

However, the effects of stress such as smoking and drinking excessively are factors,” said Crickmore.

The report showed that South Africa recorded 480 476 deaths registered at the Department of Home Affairs in 2012. This indicated a decrease of 6,2% from the 512 310 deaths that occurred in 2011.

It also found that median age at death for males, in 2007, was 44 and increased to 49 years in 2012. For women median ages at death increased from 44 years to 54 years over the same period.

The report found the distribution of deaths by province of death occurrence shows that the highest proportion of deaths (20,5%) occurred in Gauteng province, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (20,1%) and then Eastern Cape (13,6%).

KZN residents like to die in their home province with 95% of residents registering the province as home having died in the province — higher than any other province in the country.

The male to female death ratio in eThekwini and Pietermaritzburg is 103:100. The trend in various rural districts such as Sisonke, uMkhanyakude and uThukela was reversed.

While the number of overall deaths in South Africa is on the decline, Tuberculosis continues to be the number one cause of death in the country.

If you live in Durban or Pietermaritzburg and haven’t died by the time you reach 49, there is a good chance you will make it to 65 years old. More people died between the ages of 15-49 than 65 and over. This trend is common throughout the province.

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