National Diabetes Week held from July 14 to 20 in 2019

Alarming statistics: Twenty-eight people are diagnosed with both types of diabetes every day in WA, while up to 200,000 residents may be unaware they are even living with type 2 diabetes. Photo: Shutterstock.
Alarming statistics: Twenty-eight people are diagnosed with both types of diabetes every day in WA, while up to 200,000 residents may be unaware they are even living with type 2 diabetes. Photo: Shutterstock.

West Australians are being urged to put their health first during National Diabetes Week this week.

Running from July 14-20 throughout Australia, this year's campaign theme is "It's About Time" in an effort to raise awareness of all types of diabetes and how it affects those that are living with it.

Twenty-eight people are diagnosed with both types of diabetes every day in WA, while up to 200,000 residents may be unaware they are living with type 2 diabetes, according to data from the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

Statistics indicate the condition is prevalent throughout the state with an average of 3.8 per cent of the population living with type 2 diabetes alone.

This is lower than the current national average, which stands at 4.1 per cent.

Diabetes WA health services and evaluation general manager Deb Schofield said for every person living with type 2 diabetes, there was another person living with the condition without being diagnosed.

"People may not have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, they may not recognise the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and/or may not be having regular health checks," she said.

"Early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is very important because 60 per cent of people who are diagnosed early can walk away from type 2 diabetes by changing their diet and exercise routine.

"Early diagnosis, and well-managed diabetes, will prevent further health complications of type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney damage, amputation, heart attack and stroke."

As part of National Diabetes Week, Diabetes Australia are adamant the time is up to act to save lives and save hospitals.

Diabetes Australia chief executive Professor Greg Johnson said diabetes was overwhelming the Australian health system with a very high rate of diabetes-related admissions to hospitals around the country.

"Diabetes will cripple our health system unless we take urgent, comprehensive action and that's why we are saying 'It's About Time' people get checked for type 2 diabetes early, and 'It's About Time' our health system got serious about reducing the high rate of hospital admissions for diabetes," he said.

"Every year diabetes is associated with more than one million hospitalisations but it doesn't have to be like this.

"Earlier detection and optimal early treatment can reduce the risk of people developing diabetes-related complications, which account for many of these hospitalisations, by up to 37 per cent."

Each year, 640 Australians end up in hospital with extremely high blood glucose levels because the early signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes are not recognised in time.

Additionally, around the country, more than 30 per cent of hospital beds are occupied by people with diabetes.

Professor Johnson said too many Australians were being diagnosed with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes too late, with a delay in diagnosis putting many people at risk of life-threatening health problems.

"An estimated half a million Australians are living with silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes but it can be doing damage to their bodies and many will only be diagnosed late when a diabetes complication such as eye damage or heart trouble impacts their lives," he said.

"Our research shows many people underestimate the seriousness of type 2 diabetes despite the fact that it is the leading cause of blindness in working age Australians, a leading cause of limb amputations, and a leading cause of both kidney failure and heart attacks."

Learn more: Diabetes WA is encouraging locals to learn more about the condition and its symptoms with an extensive calendar of upcoming information sessions and workshops. Photo: Supplied.

Learn more: Diabetes WA is encouraging locals to learn more about the condition and its symptoms with an extensive calendar of upcoming information sessions and workshops. Photo: Supplied.

Acting WA health minister Bill Johnston encouraged West Australians to "enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle".

"National Diabetes Week is a very important initiative because it shines the spotlight on a condition that affects about 1.7 million Australians, many of them Western Australians," he said.

"We live in a beautiful state, try to get out and take regular exercise.

"A daily walk can help both your physical and emotional wellbeing so stay active, eat a balanced diet and have regular check-ups with your GP because your health matters.

"It is vital that individuals with diabetes manage their condition carefully, not just to prevent hospital admissions, but for the benefit of their own health and wellbeing."

WA shadow health minister Zak Kirkup said National Diabetes Week was a "great opportunity" to raise awareness of the condition and its symptoms.

"During this week, people are prompted to think about their health and talk to a Diabetes WA educator or meet with their own health professional to discuss any concerns or issues they may have," he said.

"We know that if diabetes is not properly managed, it can have a detrimental impact on people's lives.

"That's why it's so vital that people manage their diabetes as best as possible because if they don't, their health can be put at serious risk."

Diabetes WA is encouraging locals to learn more about the condition and its symptoms with an extensive calendar of upcoming information sessions and workshops in locations throughout the state.

Ms Schofield said the events provided a chance for people to ask certified diabetes educators any questions about diabetes.

"It is a great opportunity for people who want to know more about their condition and how to prevent developing it," she said.

"For people already living with type 2 diabetes, this event is the perfect opportunity to find out how Diabetes WA can support them to get back on track with their diabetes management and live full and healthy lives.

"These events are a great way for people to set positive goals for their type 2 diabetes management with encouragement from like minded people in similar situations to themselves."

For more information, or to book a place at any of the Diabetes WA events, call 1300 001 880 or visit the website.