Screening to be carried out to detect pre-diabetes

Health funds will launch national blood-sugar screening program; number of Israelis diagnosed with type 2 diabetes estimated at 500,000.

November 24, 2010 05:00
2 minute read.
diabetes pic 298

diabetes pic 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy 'Diabetes Voice')


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Because of the growing number of Israelis with type 2 diabetes, the health funds will launch a national screening program to identify members – from their medical files – who are 40 and over and meet one or more of the following conditions: high blood pressure, obesity (35 BMI and above), a first-degree relative with diabetes, high cholesterol levels, Arabs, Jews of Ethiopian origin, gestational diabetes, cardiovascular disease or overweight with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

The insurers will also distribute questionnaires among their members and ask them to be tested for sugar levels (if they haven’t ready done so) after an eight-hour fast.

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The number of Israelis diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (resulting mostly from poor lifestyle rather than the autoimmune disease of type 1 diabetes) is estimated at 500,000, while an equal number suffer from pre-diabetes or have not yet been diagnosed. If people are routinely screened, many cases can be caught in time to prevent serious complications, Prof. Itamar Raz, chairman of the Israel Diabetes Council, said this week, while marking Diabetes Awareness Month.

The number of diabetes cases grows by the rate of 5 percent, and 2,500 Israelis die in an average year from complications. It can cause heart attacks and strokes, as well as lead to limb amputations, blindness and kidney failure. Half of all kidney dialysis patients are diabetics, as are 70% of patients in intensive care units.

Fully 29% of Israeli men and 23% of the women are in a state of pre-diabetes, with higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, who are at serious risk of developing full-blown diabetes.

The looming cost of treating the complications threaten health systems around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Health Ministry Director- General Dr. Ronni Gamzu said at a diabetes awareness event this week that more resources must be directed to young people to prevent them from getting diabetes.

“This is a national task, and not one only for the Health Ministry,” he said.

People with pre-diabetes can stave off the disease by reducing the fat content of their diet, regular exercise for 30 minutes a day, reducing body weight by at least 7%, taking medications if these efforts don’t balance sugar/insulin levels and bariatric surgery for the seriously obese.

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