Two-thirds of people with diabetes might be dying prematurely from complications that could be prevented or delayed, the main charity tackling the disease said yesterday. said thousands of diabetics were being struck down by heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease because they were diagnosed with the underlying condition too late.
The average sufferer has had diabetes for between nine and 12 years before the condition is identified by doctors, said the charity, which called for a huge investment to combat it. The disease, with its complications, costs £5.2bn each year, 9% of the total NHS budget.
About 1.4m Britons are diagnosed with diabetes, a figure that will probably double by the end of the decade since more people are expected to become overweight. Another 1m are thought to have the disease but do not know it; as many as half of those will develop complications – such as blindness, kidney failure, the need for amputations, and the onset of fatal diseases – before their diabetes is diagnosed.
Untreated diabetes provokes symptoms such as increased thirst, going to the lavatory repeatedly, tiredness, weight loss and blurred vision.
The charity, attacking the resources available as a “scandalous state of affairs”, said money had to be put towards public education campaigns and better screening of “at risk” patients as well as more specialist doctors, nurses and dieticians. It called for local diabetes registers and “more accurate” recording of the disease on death certificates.
“Diabetes is one of the major health issues of our time. The numbers of people developing the condition is rocketing,” its report said.

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