Several medical studies have shown that India has fast become the diabetes capital of the world with a large percentage of patients suffering from uncontrolled diabetes. With the onset of COVID-19, these patients have also become the worst sufferers.
However, COVID or not, Indians are now more susceptible to having diabetes with reasons ranging from a sedentary lifestyle to other medical causes. The condition has, however, worsened after the months-long lockdown and the raging air pollution.
A study conducted by a diagnostic center revealed that the people living in metro towns are inching towards developing diabetes. The study assessed 4,53,854 fasting blood sugar test samples across age groups collected. The results indicated that across age groups, 24 percent of the people with borderline levels of sugar i.e. were pre-diabetic.
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The highest prevalence was observed among those over 50 years of age at 68 percent; followed by the 36 to 50 years of age group at 24 percent. The prevalence among those less than 35 years of age group was eight percent. The study was conducted between October 2018 and October 2020 in five cities — Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, and Hyderabad.
Dr. Sujay Prasad, medical director, Neuberg Diagnostics, which conducted the study, said that the pre-diabetes stage goes undetected and awareness is required to keep a tab on it.
“Before becoming a diabetic, a healthy person goes through a stage of pre-diabetes. This stage could be a few months to a couple of years depending on lifestyle and diet. During the prediabetes stage, blood sugar is elevated, but not enough to satisfy the international criteria for diabetes. The awareness will help persons with prediabetes to manage their sugar levels and prevent becoming diabetic.”
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Dr. H.P. Bharathi, deputy chief medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, cautioned that within the next 25 years, 134 million Indians are expected to develop diabetes. “India has the highest number of people with diabetes between the age group of 20-79. The more concerning matter is that within the next 25 years, 134 million Indians are expected to get diabetic.
He also added that diabetes may not be a life-threatening disease, but it could lead to other chronic conditions like pancreas malfunction, kidney damage, stroke, nerve damage, and visual disturbances.
Dr. Deepak Verma, consultant, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad said that adults with diabetes are at a three-fold increased risk of getting heart attacks and strokes. “Diabetes, combined with reduced blood flow, can cause neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet that in turn increases the chance of foot ulcers and infection. An aggravated infection may call for limb amputation too. It is also a significant contributor to eye diseases and can cause glaucoma — diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness; in fact, diabetes causes 2.6 percent of blindness across the world,” he added.
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Meanwhile, Dr. Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-Doc Hospital for Diabetes, expressed his suspicion over the study conducted. He said that he has less faith in such studies since they are “not performed scientifically and have less authenticity”.
“Such studies lack the authenticity of data, method, statistics, monitoring, ethical consent, peer review and publication in scientific journals,” he reasoned.
However, he added that the results of this study are not surprising. “Albeit, the findings are not new, pre-diabetes figures in scientific studies have shown somewhat similar findings.
Misra also said that pollution could have a role in aggravating diabetes, but more studies are needed to ascertain it.
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Sharing tips to keep sugar levels in control, Misra advised to maintain weight, daily exercise of any kind, and stay away from stress. “Regular monitoring through health checks is mandatory. Everyone aging above 30 years should have blood glucose tests done while existing diabetics should monitor blood glucose more frequently,” he added. (IANS)