Warning of More Heart Disease as Diabetes Cases Rise

Peter Russell

August 23, 2018

The projected rise in the number of people in the UK with diabetes will put an additional strain on NHS resources because of an increase in accompanying circulatory diseases, a leading charity has warned.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said the number of people having heart attacks and strokes as a result of their diabetes could rise by 29% by 2035 compared with 2015.

It said "bold action" was needed to tackle lifestyle factors such as obesity and poor diet that are associated with increasing rates of type 2 diabetes.

It also called for more research to help understand the link between diabetes and circulatory diseases.

Rapid Increase in Diabetes Cases

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK is estimated to be almost 3.7 million. However, experts believe that figure may be closer to 4.6 million once undiagnosed cases of diabetes are taken into account. Diabetes prevalence in the UK is expected to rise to 5 million by 2025.

Most people with diabetes have type 2, with only around 10% having type 1.

People with type 2 diabetes are between 2 and 2.5 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease complications than those without the condition, while people with type 1 diabetes have a 3.5 to 4.5 times higher risk.

Heart Attack, Stroke, Angina and Heart Failure

This means that a rise in diabetes cases is likely to lead to a sharp increase in circulatory diseases, according to the charity.

It warned that the growing number of people with diabetes could result in nearly 39,000 people living with diabetes having a heart attack in 2035 – a rise of 9000 compared to 2015 – and over 50,000 people having a stroke – a rise of 11,000.

Cases of angina and heart failure linked to diabetes could also rise by 29%, it said.

The figures, based on a BHF analysis of NHS and Public Health England statistics, suggested that over the 20-year period:

  • Diabetes and angina cases will rise from 112,172 to 144,908

  • Diabetes and heart failure cases will rise from 113,544 to 146,680

  • Diabetes and stroke cases will increase from 38,900 to 50,252

  • Diabetes and heart attack cases will rise from 30,143 to 38,939

Stretching the NHS Budget

The rise would put a severe burden on the health service, the charity said, with estimates already suggesting that the annual cost of treating people with diabetes will be £16.9 billion by 2035, up from £9.8 billion in 2012.

Simon Gillespie, BHF chief executive, said: "We can only reverse this trend by taking bold action to tackle obesity and inactivity, especially amongst young people. This must include consideration of further regulatory action to reduce sugar and fat content in food, and to curb junk food advertising directed at young children. The food industry is not acting quickly enough to re-formulate its products, despite mounting evidence of their impact on the nation's health.

"We also need continued research that will enable us to better understand how diabetes leads to these deadly heart and circulatory conditions, and how we can stop it."

Lifestyle Changes

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK said: "Cases of type 2 diabetes continue to rise, and there are an estimated 12.3 million people at risk of developing the condition. The causes are complex – being overweight but also family history, age and ethnic background can all contribute to an individual's risk.

"Unlike type 1 diabetes, which cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, being overweight or obese are the most significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes. But with the right lifestyle changes, as many as 3 in 5 cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed by helping people understand their own risk of developing the condition − and how to reduce it."


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