Experts paint a depressing future for Australian diabetics

New research presented at an international conference has predicted that almost a third of Australians with diabetes will die from the disease in the next decade.

The alarming prediction is the first to forecast the mortality and morbidity in Australia because of type two diabetes, and it presents a depressing picture.

Taken from a nationally-representative sample of diabetics, it has been revealed that 13 per cent will die in the next five years and 31 per cent would be dead within a decade, 1 in 5 will have a heart attack by 2018, and 1 in 12 will suffer stroke or other complications like amputation, blindness and renal failure.

Associate Professor Danny Liew, a clinical pharmacologist at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, says the figures are compelling and unexpected and the outlook for diabetics is not good.

Professor Liew also says worse is to come because more people in the future will develop diabetes to add to the 700,000 Australians already diagnosed with the type two diabetes.

Type two diabetes is very much a lifestyle form of the condition triggered by poor diet, lack of exercise and weight gain.

Experts say a diabetic crisis is looming as a growing number of Australians of all ages carry the dual lifestyle conditions.

Professor Liew and his colleagues were able to build a predictive model to assess the health outlook for diabetics using data from the nation's largest diabetes study, AusDiab.

The model to assess the health outlook for diabetics used a sample of 825 people who were older and had a range of complications such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Professor Liew says how typical the model is of the diabetes population, is hard to assess but it is close, and the dangers of those risks are clear and the burden of the disease is high.

Experts say while the numbers developing diabetes were on the rise, death rates overall were decreasing but the situation is still bad and the complications remain a major burden.

It is estimated that type two diabetes costs an average of $5,350 per person a year to treat, from $4,000 in the early-stage disease to almost $10,000 for people with common, diabetes-related complications.

The research was presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Francisco.

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