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Are You at Risk of Diabetes?

diabetes sign

Most people know that smoking and obesity are the main causes of heart disease. What many do not know is that diabetes is also a major risk factor for developing heart disease.

Diabetes is a medical condition where the sugar level in the blood is significantly higher than normal. The high amount of sugar in the blood can damage the inner lining of the arteries, causing blockages to blood flow. When this affects the arteries in the heart, it can cause coronary artery disease as blood flowing to the heart muscles is obstructed.

Diabetes is steadily becoming more common in Singapore, possibly due in part to an ageing population, unhealthy dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle. The main cause of diabetes is defective or absolute lack of insulin production, a hormone that breaks down the sugar in the blood. There are 2 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes

    • No insulin is produced due to damaged pancreatic cells
    • Usually diagnosed in children or young adults, although it can occur at any age
    • Insulin is absolutely necessary for treatment
  • Type 2 Diabetes

    • Insulin produced is insufficient or ineffective, usually caused by high sugar consumption
    • Usually occurs in people over 40 years old, particularly those who are overweight and physically inactive
    • More younger adults and children are developing Type 2 Diabetes
    • Can be controlled with proper diet and exercise but most diabetic persons require oral medication or insulin, or both.

Diabetes: Am I at Risk?

People above the age of 40, especially those with a family history of diabetes, stroke or heart attack, and those who are overweight, are at high risk of diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Constant tiredness
  • Constant hunger
  • Frequent thirst despite drinking lots of water
  • Itchiness especially around the genital area
  • Passing excessive urine during the day and at night
  • Weight loss despite good appetite
  • Poor healing of cuts and wounds

What are the Complications of Diabetes?

Diabetes leads to the narrowing of important arteries that supply your various organs, resulting in:

  • Heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms
  • Stroke (brain)
  • Retina disease (eye)
  • Kidney failure
  • Foot disease such as ulcers and gangrene requiring amputation
  • Nerve disease which can lead to problems such as impotence and diarrhoea


What Should I Do if I Have Diabetes?

Pre-diabetes can be managed by modifying your lifestyle. Medication is also available to prevent the onset of diabetes.

For those who are already diabetic, there are effective forms of treatment available to slow the development of complications in whichever stage of the disease. Medication can be used to boost insulin production in the body and reduce the blood sugar level. In some cases, regular insulin injections is required to manage the condition.

It is possible to cure early diabetes in those who are obese through lifestyle modification and weight loss surgery. Reducing carbohydrate intake and avoiding sugared drinks are two important steps. Regular, moderate exercise can also help to improve circulation and prevent the onset of blockages in the arteries.

Take charge of heart health today. Make an appointment for a Heart Screening with Specialist Consultation at Gleneagles Hospital. To learn more, please visit our heart specialists or call the Gleneagles Patient Assistance Centre 24-hour Hotline at (65) 6575 7575