Recent estimates by the IDF suggest that over three million individuals from across the GCC have diabetes and millions more are at risk. Image Credit: Rex Features

Abu Dhabi: Diabetes, if not properly treated, leads to complications including decreased blood flow in the legs, neuropathy (damage to nerves), infections, gangrene, and leg and foot amputation, a doctor warned.

According to Dr Abdul Razzaq A. Madani, Consultant Endocrinologist and Head of Emirates Diabetes Society, diabetes is the second most common cause for amputation in the UAE, behind car accidents.

"Toes, feet, lower limbs and sometimes fingers can all become vulnerable among diabetics due to gangrene. So why reach that stage? Prevention is the best solution to help avoid the disease from the beginning," said Madani.

Gangrene, common among type 2 diabetics, is a condition that involves the death and decay of tissue, usually in the extremities. Bacterial infections can also lead to gangrene, which can be treatable if the symptoms are recognised early.

In his presentation during the launch of the My Diabetes Story to coincide with world diabetes day on Sunday, Madani cited the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) who predicted that by 2030, diabetes prevalence in the UAE between the ages 20 to 79 years old, will reach 21.4 per cent.

Even though health authority figures cite higher diabetes prevalence in the UAE, recent IDF figures peg diabetes prevalence affecting 18.7 per cent of the adult population, making it the second highest worldwide.

In addition, the IDF study shows that the annual health expenditure among diabetics in 2010 has reached $1,067 (Dh44,314) per person.

Costs

"The cost of treatment among diabetics is way higher than that. That IDF cited cost only includes UAE Ministry of Health expenditures. Treatment for diabetes normally includes a combination of oral medication and insulin, and if not treated well, can lead to severe complications including blindness, kidney and heart diseases, stroke, loss of limbs and can reduce life expectancy. All these are cost burdens not only on the individual, but on the country in general," said Madani.

Recent estimates by the IDF suggest that over three million individuals from across the GCC have diabetes and millions more are at risk.

Live healthy

The fourth annual public health awareness campaign and walkathon organised by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre — Walk UAE 2010 "Start Walking. Live Healthy" in support of World Diabetes Day will take place at the Yas Marina Curcuit in Yas Island on Friday, November 26 .

In Dubai

Beat Diabetes walk to be held on Friday, November 12 at the Oasis Centre, to commemorate World Diabetes Day and month.