Endocrinologist Dr Shyam Sunder shows some of the items needed by diabetics to inject themselves and a model of major organs effected by diabetes, the brain, heart, eyes and kidney.
Endocrinologist Dr Shyam Sunder shows some of the items needed by diabetics to inject themselves and a model of major organs effected by diabetes, the brain, heart, eyes and kidney. Nicholas Falconer

The shocking number of diabetes limb losses on the Coast

THE number of Coast residents living with type 2 diabetes could almost fill the Sunshine Coast Stadium and three of them each month will lose a limb to the disease.

With July 10 -16 marking National Diabetes Week, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service director of diabetes and endocrinology Dr Shyam Sunder said it was time to learn more about the disease, which affects 11,924 people on the Coast.

Dr Sunder said many people believed diabetes only affected older or overweight people, but the reality was people of all age groups could develop the disease.

"Those most at risk of developing diabetes are males over the age of 45. Indigenous people or those from an Indian sub-continent also have an elevated risk, as well as people with a family history of diabetes," Dr Sunder said.

"While the number of Australians at risk of developing type 2 diabetes is alarming, up to 60 per cent of cases can be prevented.

"Appropriate changes in diet and increasing levels of physical activity can put the brakes on the emerging epidemic of diabetes."

Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute said 36 Coast residents lose a limb to diabetes each year, a high number even in Australia, where rates of amputation and hospitalisation are up to 65% higher than those for other industrialised nations.

"Diabetes causes 50 to 60 per cent of all Australian amputations," Ms Trute said.

Even more alarmingly, Ms Trute said there were about 5,962 people in the Sunshine Coast Council area who had type 2 diabetes and didn't know it yet.

Ms Trute said that unlike type 1 diabetes, which was caused by an auto-immune response, type 2 diabetes could remain undetected for years.

"Quite often, it causes serious damage to the body, the circulatory system and organs even before the patient is aware they are affected," she said.

"Today, doctors can prescribe tests to reveal type 2 diabetes years earlier than in the past.

"Having an early warning is your chance to turn the tables on a condition that can be controlled through diet and healthy living.

"You can intervene and add years to your life. You can live to enjoy your retirement and do without the worry of illness and the threat of limb amputation."

Ms Trute said diabetes was the "single biggest challenge" confronting Australia's health system.

"Unless we act now, Queensland could see diabetes related health care spending increase by as much as 500 per cent over three decades to 2032," she said.

Assess your risk of diabetes by answering a short health questionnaire at http://bit.ly/OGDt9u.


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