Experts want people to understand gravity of the situation

At a time when the public health system is waging a battle with dengue in Madurai district, another major challenge being faced is diabetes which is hitting several men and women in their prime age.

On the occasion of World Diabetes Day (November 14), a team of 10 eminent doctors who have been treating diabetes patients for various complications including cardiology, nephrology and ophthalmology have cautioned about the rising burden of diabetes among people of all age groups in even smaller cities and towns.

As the number of new patients detected with diabetes is on the rise, the doctors said that prevention and right treatment have to be done on a war-footing since ‘sugar’ can affect every vital part in the body starting from head to foot.

While dengue fever is causing sudden deaths due to haemorrhage, diabetes is a silent killer and hence the experts wanted people to understand the gravity of the situation. The awareness programme for World Diabetes Day 2012 was organised by Shenbagam Diabetes Clinic in Madurai with focus on ‘diabetes and its complications,’ here on Sunday.

The panel of doctors who spoke on prevention and treatment of diabetes include cardiologist S. S. Annamalaisamy (moderated the discussion), K. Krishnamoorthy and S. Pandian (diabetologists), A. Madhavan, senior interventional cardiologist from Apollo Speciality Hospitals, R. M. Hemanath, nephrologist, R. Durairaj, neurologist, R. Kim, leading ophthalmologist from Aravind Eye Hospital, MACS. Rajendran, chairman, Shenbagam Diabetic Centre, T. Ravichandran, yoga trainer and MACS. R. Surendran, Managing Director, Shenbagam Diabetes Clinic.

Initiating the awareness programme, Dr. Surendran said that diabetes is not an urban syndrome anymore because the studies showed that rural areas are badly affected and there is a greater need to educate people.

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2012 is ‘Diabetes education and prevention’ while the slogan is ‘diabetes: protect out future’. It was pointed out by the experts that India is expected to have eight crore diabetic patients by the year 2030.

“Urbanisation and accompanying changes in lifestyle are the main drivers of diabetes and four out of five persons with diabetes live in low and middle income families. Diabetes affects all parts of the body- heart, nervous system, kidneys, eyes and foot. In Tamil Nadu, 18.6 per cent of population are known to have diabetes and statistics are not encouraging for places like Madurai,” it was explained.

Diabetes can go many years without showing symptoms as high blood glucose slowly damages major organs in the body and some complications are irreversible. In pre-diabetic stage, doing regular yoga exercises can postpone diabetes.

Dr. Kim said that all diabetics must go for eye check-up once in a year while Dr. Madhavan warned that consuming alcohol beyond a limit could lead to major complications in the case of diabetic patients. “Taking whisky is not risky if it is consumed less, but the ‘side dishes’ that go along with whisky will be risky”, he said in response to a question from the audience.

While Dr. Surendran advised people to change their footwear every six months, heart specialist Dr. Madhavan said that everyone must bear in mind that diabetes is equal to heart disease and hence ‘sugar’ patients should get angiogram done.

The final message that came from the experts was that limited food, regular exercise/brisk walking for 45 minutes every day, avoiding sweets/junk food and maintaining ideal body weight can put diabetes at a distance or at least postpone it by few years.

This awareness programme was followed by a ‘pattimandram’ by Solomon Pappiah.

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