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13 Nov 2017

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has examined data from National Diabetes Services Scheme and the National Death Index to provide a more complete understanding of deaths among people with diagnosed diabetes.

With 280 Australians developing diabetes every day, the bearing of the disease and its complications have a major personal cost to the individual and their family as well the health system.

The AIHW believes their comprehensive picture of diabetes-related deaths is important for population-based prevention strategies and could help to improve care for all people with diabetes.

The report found that overall death rates among people with diabetes were almost twice as high as the general population. And, with around 1.7 million Australians having diabetes, the numbers are significant.

“Overall in Australia, there is a trend toward lower death rates, but for people with type 2 diabetes, these improvements have not been seen,” AIHW spokeswoman Dr Lynelle Moon said.

“In fact, death rates among people with type 2 diabetes increased by 10 per cent between 2009 and 2014, mainly driven by the increase among the very old (85 and over).”

The disparity in death rates between people with diabetes and the general population was highest at younger ages – death rates were 4.5 times as high for people aged under 45 with type 1 diabetes and almost 6 times as high for those with type 2 diabetes, compared with the Australian population of the same age.

“Overall, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke were the most common underlying causes of death among people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes,” Dr Moon said.

“Kidney failure was also a leading cause of death for people with type 1 diabetes, while dementia was a common cause of death in those with type 2 diabetes.”

The report also shows that death rates among people with diabetes increased with socioeconomic disadvantage and remoteness.

People with diabetes living in the lowest socioeconomic areas experienced higher death rates than those in the highest socioeconomic areas. Among people with type 2 diabetes, the highest death rates were in remote and very remote areas.

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia; increasing at a faster rate than other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, according to figures from Diabetes Australia.

The total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia is estimated to be at $14.6 billion. This includes a cost to the Australian health system of around $875 million per year in amputations. Diabetes Australia estimates that 4,400 amputations are performed in Australian hospitals every year, with up to 85 per cent of these preventable.

Diabetes Australia believes that awareness and early detection is incredibly important to address this growing concern and has called on the Australian Government to implement a Diabetes Amputation Prevention Initiative to ensure systematic early detection of foot problems, and early treatment to prevent amputations.

“Most people in the community have no idea that diabetes causes so many amputations. We need to raise awareness within the community and with key political leaders about the scale of the problem, its impact and what we need to do to fix it,” Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said.

“Every year thousands of Australians are not so lucky and have to undergo traumatic and debilitating amputations. The sad truth is that health outcomes for people undergoing major amputations are poor. Many people will die in the first five years after a major amputation.”

MEREDITH HORNE


Published: 13 Nov 2017