A GP is urging people across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to check their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes as part of National Diabetes Prevention Week. Diabetes Prevention Week runs from April 16 to 22.
Some 27,000 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are already living with the serious condition and hundreds more may have already developed Type 2 diabetes and be unaware they have it.
A further 26,000 people are at an increased risk of having to face the serious condition unless they make some lifestyle changes.
NHS England’s Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP) is delivered by the company Living Well Taking Control, and is available to provide a helping hand.
This service supports people to make positive changes to their diet, weight and the amount of exercise they take, which will ultimately reduce the risk of, or even stop Type 2 diabetes developing. All GPs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can make referrals to this free service.
Lindsey Hainsworth, from Morwenstow near Bude, is 18 weeks into the group sessions and says not only has it helped her change the direction of the way her health was heading but also given her a huge confidence boost.
Until a recent visit to her doctor’s surgery the 55-year-old said that developing diabetes was the furthest thing from her mind.
Lindsey said: “I’d visited my doctor’s surgery for a routine blood test for a different condition. When the results came back the nurse commented on how my blood sugar levels were higher and how unusual that was for me.
“My surgery referred me to the Healthier You service and right from the beginning it was really motivational.
“There is Type 2 diabetes in the family already and I was terrified of developing the condition.
“I knew that I needed to lose a stone or so and I am partial to chocolate, which is my guilty pleasure, but it still came as a shock.
“I was less confident when I started on the service and I feel that one of the benefits was being in a group environment, sharing experiences and knowing that you’re not the only one going through this.
“We share real stories and ideas and discuss the changes they were making over the weeks. At one session we learnt that if you want to eat an apple always follow it with an oat cake as that will bring down your sugar levels, which really surprised.
“Since joining Healthier You I have lost weight and am making better choices with regard to my diet and exercise.”
Lindsey has completed the first stages of the programme and her confidence has grown and she has become a volunteer for Age UK Cornwall.
Dr Alison Flanagan, NHS Kernow’s clinical lead for long-term conditions, said: “Type 2 diabetes can cause very serious health problems. It is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack and stroke.
“Signs of Type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, increased passing of urine and poor healing of cuts and infections. If you are concerned you should make an appointment with your GP or practice nurse to discuss having a blood test.
“The Diabetes UK website has a really useful checker that anyone can use to see if they are at risk of developing diabetes.
“It’s important to talk about Type 2 diabetes because it is a common condition and the consequences can life-changing. But it can be prevented so why not visit the Diabetes UK website and check your risk of Type 2 diabetes.”
The NHS DPP was launched in April last year and more than 1,500 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been referred on to the free programme.
You can listen to Dr Flanagan talk more about Diabetes Prevention Week here.