(NaturalNews) The National Health Service (NHS) of the U.K. recently conducted an audit of its hospital patients and found that 20 percent of them have diabetes. Many of these patients had been admitted to the hospital to be treated for conditions caused directly by the disease, illustrating the tremendous social burden being caused by the obesity-related illness.
While not all diabetes patients had been admitted for the treatment of diabetes-related conditions, many had been, including for things like kidney failure, ulcers, nerve damage, heart attacks and strokes. Those with diabetes are 500 more prone to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
Even among those with diabetes who had been admitted for other unrelated conditions, the report showed that these patients generally remained in the hospital for a longer period of time than did those without diabetes. Experts are concerned that the burgeoning rates of both obesity and diabetes are placing enormous strain on Britain's health care system.
The vast majority of diabetes cases in the U.K. are caused by people living unhealthy lifestyles. Ninety percent of the 2.3 million Britons with type 2 diabetes have it because of poor lifestyle habits including excessive tobacco and alcohol use, limited physical exercise, poor diet and obesity.
Since 1996, the number of cases of type 2 diabetes in the U.K. has doubled. If rates continue to increase as they have been, by 2025, 25 percent of the NHS budget will be spent on treating the over four million people who are expected to have diabetes.
Another problem is that, once admitted, not all diabetic patients receive the necessary specialized care for their condition. Only 50 percent of patients questioned in a previous Diabetes U.K. study said they were seen by a nurse specialist while admitted. Twenty percent were not given their necessary medications while 30 percent said the staff was not even aware that they had diabetes.
Diabetes often causes severe circulation problems that can result in limb amputation. Roughly 5,000 diabetes patients undergo limb amputations every year in the U.K. and, according to surgeons, half of these could have been avoided had proper care been given to them during the early stages of the disease.
Dr. Rowan Hillson, the government liaison who headed the study, suggests the appointment of hospital diabetes specialists who will offer specific advice to diabetic patients and make sure that complications are not overlooked. According to her estimate, readmission of diabetic patients will eventually decrease as will the number of drug errors and the length of patients' stay at hospitals.