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5 Jan 2021, 19:00
Local GPs are urging people across west Hertfordshire to take steps to avoid developing type 2 diabetes. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) makes it easier for people at risk from the disease to make simple lifestyle changes and reduce their risk. Doctors in west Hertfordshire are keen that as many people as possible benefit from the programme, which is being delivered online during the coronavirus pandemic.
About 30,000 people in Hertfordshire are diagnosed as diabetic, with 90% of them living with type 2 diabetes. And it is estimated that as many as another 63,000 people in west Hertfordshire are at risk of developing the disease. Doctors hope that an extra 4,700 will sign up for the prevention programme by March of next year.
Anyone over the age of 40, or who is overweight, has a history of high blood pressure, diabetes in the family or comes from some BAME groups has a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Anyone in one of those groups should take a quick online test (https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start) to get a better sense of their diabetes risk.
If it’s high, they should talk to their GP about the Diabetes Prevention Programme. The GP can check the risk and if needed refer people to the free prevention programme. The programme will provide information about diet, exercise and lifestyle as well as practical support to help you make the changes that will reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes can cause sight loss, kidney problems and amputation and puts people at much higher risk of serious complications if they catch Covid-19.
Some people are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes due a variety of factors beyond their control – this includes age, ethnicity and family history. However, other factors including being overweight, or having high blood pressure, are things people can do something about and drastically reducing their risk.
Anyone worried about type 2 diabetes should take the online risk test or talk to their GP or practice nurse about joining the programme. A simple blood test will show if you are pre-diabetic, and you can be referred to the programme immediately.
Dr Nicola Cowap, a GP at Bridgwater Surgery in Watford, said “it’s much easier to avoid diabetes than it is to manage the disease once you’ve got it. Lots of people might be at risk without knowing the things that raise their chances of developing diabetes: age, weight, ethnicity, high blood pressure and family history. I urge everyone in at-risk group to see if this programme can help them. Take the online test or talk to your GP and find out what your chances really are. Type 2 diabetes is far too common, and anything you can do to reduce your risk is definitely worth doing.”
One patient, who went through the programme, said “It started back in mid-2019 when I just didn't feel well. I couldn't put my finger on but I wasn't right, enough for me to seek advice from my doctor who sent me for blood tests and the result was showing me with pre diabetes. I was then invited to attend the programme: at first I have to admit not really being sure, but I thought I have nothing to lose and l am glad I did. The coach was approachable and very motivational.
“I found the session on carbohydrates and food labelling a real eye opener and feel that may have been the turning point of my lifestyle changes.
“I turned 60 in June just after lockdown and I feel the fittest and healthiest I have felt for a very long time.”
For more information about diabetes, risks and the Diabetes Prevention Programme, see https://preventing-diabetes.co.uk/hertfordshire-west-essex/