Hong Kong Med J 2000;6:61-8 | Number 1, March 2000
Diabetic complications and their implications on health care in Asia
GM Leung, KSL Lam
Department of Community Medicine, Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong
Diabetes mellitus is a growing health problem in the Asia-Pacific region. The acute and chronic complications of diabetes mellitus are major causes of hospital admissions, blindness, renal failure, amputations, stroke, and coronary heart disease in this region. Compared with the general population, the annual per capita health care expenditure is estimated to be four-fold for people with diabetes. Recent prospective studies have provided unequivocal evidence for the crucial role of prolonged hyperglycaemia in the development of chronic diabetic complications. Although the aetiology of hyperglycaemia-induced damage of the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and arteries still remain to be elucidated, observational and interventional studies show that the occurrence and progression of these complications can be prevented by the optimal control of blood glucose, hypertension, and dyslipidaemia. Lifestyle changes such as weight control, increased physical exercise, and smoking cessation are also potentially beneficial in preventing diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease. Furthermore, the morbidity and mortality caused by diabetes mellitus can be reduced by secondary prevention through regular screening, early detection, and appropriate treatment of chronic complications. Improved diabetes education is needed among health professionals as well as the general and diabetic populations. Government and public health officials should be mindful of the economic impact of this major health problem so that adequate health care resources can be allocated for the primary and secondary prevention of diabetic complications.
Key words: Diabetes mellitus/economics; Diabetic angiopathies; Diabetic nephropathies; Diabetic neuropathies; Diabetic retinopathy; Health care costs
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