The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated the list of the leading causes of death in the world. Among the top ten remain heart attacks, cerebral hemorrhages and infarctions and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which account for 17 million deaths, according to the latest data published by the WHO in 2011.
Chronic diseases such as cancer are also among the leading causes of death in the world. But, for the first time, diabetes appears on the World Health Organization’s list. This disease appears at number eight in the ranking, accumulating 1.4 million victims in the world.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes develops hyperglycemia, i.e. a rise in blood sugar that can lead to serious consequences. There are two types of diabetes:
-Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset diabetes. It is due to a deficient production of insulin and requires daily administration of this hormone. Symptoms can appear suddenly. The most common are weight loss, visual disturbances, tiredness and constant hunger.
Type 2 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes. It is characterized by inefficient insulin utilization. This type of diabetes accounts for 95% of all diabetes cases worldwide and is largely due to physical inactivity or excessive body weight. Symptoms are less intense than in type 1 diabetes but, consequently, it can only be diagnosed after several years of evolution and already presents complications.
Complications or consequences
However, it is the complications of diabetes that end the life of the sufferer. There are people who spend years with high blood glucose levels and show no symptoms, but in the long term this invisible disease can damage various organs. The main consequences are nerve and blood vessel damage, heart disease, blindness and kidney damage.
Some facts about the most frequent consequences of diabetes:
-50% of diabetic patients die of cardiovascular disease because diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and cerebral vascular accident.
-After 15 years with diabetes, approximately 2% of patients lose their sight and 10% suffer severe vision impairment because diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness.
-10% to 20% of patients with diabetes die from developing kidney failure.
To prevent diabetes, it is essential to follow a healthy diet, do regular physical activity, maintain an adequate body weight and avoid smoking. Following certain lifestyle measures reduces the risk of developing the disease. Therefore, it is important to:
-Follow a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables and has a reduced amount of foods with sugar and saturated fats.
-Perform daily or almost daily physical activity of about 30 minutes with a moderate intensity.
-Maintain an adequate and healthy body weight.