Abu Dhabi: Diabetic patients in the UAE are four times as likely to experience sudden death due to cardio-vascular diseases (CVD) than non-diabetic patients, a conference in the capital heard.

It is estimated that 19.5 per cent of the UAE's population is living with diabetes.

This figure is estimated to grow to 21.9 per cent by 2025 due to the sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits of many residents .

At a conference on CVD and diabetics, Dr Jens Peder Bagger, consultant cardiologist at the Imperial College London diabetes centre (ICLDC), said cardiovascular disease is a "silent killer" among diabetics, since it can result in instant death without prior, related symptoms.

"Statistics show the risks of sudden death related to CVD among diabetic patients is consistently greater. Suspected cases arise due to discreet changes in the electro-cardiogram, and normally those patients undergo tests immediately," said Bagger.

Statistics released to Gulf News show over the past year 11.7 per cent of diabetic females and 11.1 per cent of diabetic males have been suspected of having CVD and have been examined at the ICLDC.

"We examined more females than males since females were often neglected in the past. They were assumed to have less coronary diseases and a better diabetic prognosis than men," said Dr Maha Barakat, consultant endocrinologist and medical and research director, ICLDC, at a press conference.

Women normally carry a greater risk of CVD after menopause.

"Non-diabetic females have been proven to develop CVD at an older age than men. But diabetic females have almost levelled out that statistic. We only found a one-year delay in diabetic patients compared to a ten-year delay in other patients," said Bagger.