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Young South Asian people at higher risk of diabetes and associated heart disease

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Young South Asian people have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes, leading to a higher risk of heart disease and other related conditions than people from a white background, according to research presented at Diabetes UK’s Diabetes Professional Conference today.

According to the study, South Asians with Type 2 diabetes aged 20 to 60 are at increased risk of cardiovascular problems and associated conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and high cholesterol. The survival rates in these young patients are also significantly lower in the South Asian community.

Up to six times more common

Type 2 diabetes is up to six times more common in people of South Asian descent, and is a growing problem in the community. The South Asian community is also at risk of Type 2 diabetes from the age of 25, opposed to 40 in the White population.

Jenne Patel, Equality and Diversity Manager for Diabetes UK, said, "Getting information to the South Asian community about the complications of diabetes is absolutely vital. We need to be helping this group, already at a much increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, understand exactly what their diagnosis means and the possible side effects that come along with it.

Type 2 diabetes can go undiagnosed for up to 10 years

"Being aware of Type 2 diabetes and the complications of the condition is very important. Often, Type 2 diabetes can go undiagnosed for up to 10 years, by which time complications, including heart disease, can already have begun to develop. If you are South Asian and over the age of 25, then you need to be getting yourself checked for Type 2 diabetes."

Genetics "likely to play a big part"

Dr. Rahul Potluri, Founder of the ACALM Study Unit, which performed the research, said, "This is a very important piece research that compares ethnicity when looking at the impact of diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in young patients. There were significant ethnic differences in the risk of cardiovascular problems and other complications associated with this condition, even in young individuals. More research needs to be done to understand these differences; genetics are likely to play a big part, but modifiable lifestyle factors should also be investigated and addressed."

The study compared anonymous routinely collected hospital data of 19,469 Type 2 diabetes patients aged 20 to 60 attending seven hospitals in the North West of the UK between 2000 and 2013. The data was obtained from the local health authority computerized hospital activity register and processed using the ACALM protocol.

The Diabetes UK Professional Conference is one of the UK’s largest healthcare meetings and this year is in Liverpool from March 5 to March 7.

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