British Heart Foundation calls for bold action to combat diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on August 28, 2018

According to a new analysis by the British Heart Foundation the number of people suffering heart attacks and strokes as a result of their diabetes will rise by 29% by 2035. It is calling for a new bold strategy to deal with lifestyle factors that can lead to diabetes.

The forecast also reveals that the growing number of people with diabetes could result in nearly 39,000 people living with diabetes suffering a heart attack in 2035, a rise of 9,000 compared to 2015, and over 50,000 people suffering a stroke, a rise of 11,000.

Currently there are four million with diabetes in England, but the BHF says this is set to rise to over five million over the next 20 years, partly due to people’s worsening lifestyles and the UK’s growing obesity rates.

The vast majority of people with diabetes have type 2, with just 10% diagnosed with type 1 in the UK. People with diabetes are twice to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes.

This means the rise in diabetes cases, is expected to trigger a sharp increase in these deadly heart and circulatory problems. In addition to heart attack and stroke, the rise in diabetes cases will increase the number of people suffering from conditions including angina and heart failure.

The BHF is calling for ‘bold action’ to tackle lifestyle factors, such as obesity and a poor diet, that are leading to spiralling rates of diabetes, as well as a greater focus within the health sector on earlier diagnosis.

‘Thanks to research we’ve made excellent progress in improving survival rates for heart attacks and strokes. However, these figures point to an extremely worrying trend. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases and the expected surge in diabetes cases by 2035 could put thousands more people at risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke,’ said BHF chief executive officer Simon Gillespie.

‘We can only reverse this trend by taking bold action to tackle obesity and inactivity, especially amongst young people. This must include consideration of further regulatory action to reduce sugar and fat content in food, and to curb junk food advertising directed at young children,’ he pointed out.

‘The food industry is not acting quickly enough to re-formulate its products, despite mounting evidence of their impact on the nation’s health. We also need continued research that will enable us to better understand how diabetes leads to these deadly heart and circulatory conditions, and how we can stop it,’ he added.

Sarah Miles, 43, from Somerset, has been living with type 2 diabetes for five years and at age 38 she had a heart attack and cardiac arrest, and is now living with heart failure. ‘Living with diabetes is difficult, but to then have a heart attack was a total shock. The attack led to heart failure which has severely limited my quality of life. I’ve had to give up my nursing career, my social life and my family dynamic has totally changed forever,’ she said.

‘To think that these conditions are on the rise is extremely worrying, and people need to be aware of how they can prevent them in the first place. I was also surprised by how little my doctors knew about the connection between my diabetes and heart problems, which shows the real need for research into new treatments,’ she added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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