A new Government report reveals 1 million UK adults are likely to have undiagnosed diabetes and at least 5.1 million are prediabetic. Many of them will be young, of average weight and entirely without symptoms. That’s why taking a simple blood test is essential, says a leading expert.
Shocking new figures from the Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal an estimated 1 million adults have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. Worse still, 50% of cases in people under 44 are likely to be undiagnosed. In 2019, there were almost 14,000 diabetes-related deaths in the UK. The earlier people are diagnosed, the better the outcome.
Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘Diabetes is an invisible killer that shortens lives by up to ten years. Untreated diabetes can lead to blindness, amputations and death. Swift treatment is vital. Although millions of Brits are already being treated for type 2 diabetes, these new figures reveal around 30% of people who have “full blown” type 2 diabetes aren’t even aware of it. Ironically, the younger you are and the healthier you seem, the more likely it is your diabetes will remain undiagnosed.
‘The figures are even worse for prediabetics – people on the threshold of developing “full blown” diabetes. Prediabetes affects around 1 in 9 Brits, says the ONS, which equates to approximately 5.1 million adults.
‘It’s astonishing to think that both diabetes and prediabetes can be identified by a simple finger-prick blood test, yet 30% of diabetics and potentially millions of prediabetics remain undiagnosed. Remember, prediabetes is an entirely reversable condition. Basic changes to lifestyle and diet can ensure people return to full health and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in most cases.
‘Older or overweight people are likely to be checked for the condition. However, there are many people who could have diabetes or, at least, prediabetes but who never get checked. These include those who are in better health, have a lower body mass index (BMI) or who are considered at “low risk” because they are aged under 44. The ONS’ own figures show 8% of people who were not overweight or obese are known to have prediabetes. This is a missed opportunity for intervention in a group of people who would have comparatively greater positive outcomes.
‘Concerningly, prediabetics are unlikely to experience any symptoms, meaning the condition goes unnoticed even at the threshold of type 2 diabetes, when irreversible damage has already occurred. That’s why we launched our “Give the finger to diabetes” campaign last year, to identify undiagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes with a simple finger-prick blood test.
‘Increased testing is vital to establish which of us are among this at-risk population. The most accurate test to identify prediabetes is known as the HbA1c test, which can be done at your local medical practice but is also now available as a revolutionary and convenient home finger-prick test from London Medical Laboratory.
‘The sooner this problem is detected the better we can manage it. Those who discover they have prediabetes should take it as a warning sign that they are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that prediabetes is not “full” diabetes yet and, with the right support, up to 50% of cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.
‘London Medical Laboratory’s finger-prick HbA1c “Diabetes – Diagnosis and Monitoring” test is considered the gold standard in regular testing. It is used to measure the average level of blood glucose over the previous two to three months and both accurately monitor and diagnose diabetes. It can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 120 selected pharmacies and health stores.