15 July 2015

During National Diabetes Week (12 - 18 July 2015), Capital Health Network (CHN) is encouraging Canberrans to see their local family doctor if they suspect they may be at risk for diabetes as many people have no symptoms and have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

It’s been revealed that around 25% of people with Type 2 diabetes do not know they have it, according to a recent report by the COAG Reform Council “Healthcare in Australia 2012-13: Five years of performance”.

CHN Chair Dr Martin Liedvogel said in some cases people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes won’t have any symptoms, so it’s important to know the risk factors.

“Often there are no symptoms, so I urge anyone who has risk factors including family history, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and excess weight to see their GP if they suspect they may have or be at risk of getting diabetes,” said Dr Liedvogel, CHN Chair.

For people who do have symptoms of Type 2 diabetes they may include excessive thirst and urination, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, tingling or numbness in their feet.

It’s important to be diagnosed early to reduce associated health problems later in life.

“Undiagnosed or poorly managed diabetes can lead to serious health problems. Complications from Type 2 diabetes can result in diabetes-related complications, such as kidney damage, eye damage, nerve damage or the risk of foot ulcers,” said Dr Liedvogel.

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia. The “ACT Population Health Commissioning Atlas” indicates that by 2020 there will be a 50% increase of diabetes incidence in the ACT. Being overweight or obese is linked to later developing health conditions such as diabetes.

“The good news is that many cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through lifestyle changes. GPs can help patients reduce their risk of developing diabetes by working with them to improve their current diet and exercise regime,” said Dr Liedvogel.

Capital Health Network is the ACT’s chief primary health care organisation supporting health professionals to improve the delivery of local primary health care services.