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Mismanaged Type 2 Diabetes: A Soaring Health Crisis for Guwahatians

Mismanaged Type 2 Diabetes: A Soaring Health Crisis for Guwahatians

Sentinel Digital Desk

68% of patients in eastern India* are ignorant about the health risks due to Diabetes

Dr. Bikash Bhattacharjee

The majority of Type 2 Diabetes patients living Assam are not concerned with the complications associated with diabetes. A staggering 68% patients said that while they are aware of the health problems which might affect them in the future, they were not really concerned and the risk seemed remote.

Poorly managed Type 2 Diabetes can lead to a host of other health issues like kidney failure, nerve damage, blindness, heart disease and stroke.

Additionally, 86% patients in the region had late diagnosis of the disease and hence immediately put on treatment. The key reason being that patients continue to ignore symptoms.

Gaps in Type 2 Diabetes management in India

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) accounts for 90 percent of all cases of the disease, across the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are 72 million diabetes patients in India alone, making it the 'Diabetes Capital of the World'.

Factors such as glucose intolerance (pre-diabetes), underdiagnosis and/or delayed diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes are causing a rapid increase in disease burden.

Clinical studies like Time2DoMore in Diabetes have indicated the gaps in disease management, post diagnosis:

  • More than 42 percent of patients who are treated for the disease do not reach their blood sugar goals, putting them at higher risk of organ and tissue damage and blindness.
  • Most patients are not aware of the danger associated with hypoglycemia (low sugar levels or 'hypo') and fail to manage these episodes properly. For example: 90% of patients from the eastern part of India – Kolkata, Howrah, Patna, Bhubaneshwar and Guwahati – thought that the best way to avoid a 'hypo' is by eating a high calorie chocolate bar

According to Dr. Bikash Bhattacharjee, Diabetologist, Sun Valley Hospital, Guwahati, "Since the currently available international treatment guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes recommend a step-by-step method for treatment, most specialists in India follow that traditional approach for newly diagnosed patients. They are first prescribed a single medicine (or monotherapy) along with lifestyle modifications. Based on their progress, the doctor may add another medicine. In the interim, the disease might keep affecting other vital organs like heart, kidney and eyes. A recent VERIFY study (published in the Lancet) establishes that starting on combination treatment (more than one medicine with multiple benefits and minimal risk of Hypoglycemia) immediately after diagnosis, delays disease progression and therefore could significantly bring down the risk of a heart attack or stroke, in the future."

Early diagnosis and treatment – Key to Management

Delayed diagnosis is also major gap that exists in in diabetes management in India. Therefore, the need of the hour is to raise awareness about disease management and importance of early treatment.

A recent VERIFY study, published in the Lancet, is the first to investigate the long-term clinical benefits of early combination treatment strategy for effective management of Type 2 Diabetes. The positive results from the VERIFY study further affirm the importance of early treatment intensification in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients.

Rapid changes in lifestyle is one of the key reasons for the early onset of diabetes amongst Indians. While early diagnosis and treatment is key to manage the disease, adapting a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits is critical.

(Dr. Bikash Bhattacharjee is a Diabetologist in Sun Valley Hospital, Guwahati)

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