14 July 2019
Austin Health's Director of Diabetes, Associate Professor Elif Ekinci, has helped Diabetes Australia launch this year's National Diabetes Week at the Austin Hospital today.
Associate Professor Ekinci joined Diabetes Australia CEO, Professor Greg Johnson, to share the findings of a world first program at Austin Health that is testing every patient over the age of 54 for diabetes when they are admitted to hospital.
"Our work continues to show there is a clear link between diabetes and the risk of hospitalisation," Associate Professor Ekinci said.
"Figures from Diabetes Australia indicate that around 1.7 million Australians, or seven per cent of the population, has diabetes yet our research confirms more than one-third of patients admitted to hospital have the disease.
"We have developed a program that tests every patient above the age of 54 for diabetes on admission to hospital with Austin Health to ensure we understand not only their symptoms but also whether diabetes may be the underlying cause.
"In addition, we have identified that 5% of all patients we test are suffering from type 2 diabetes and do not realise they have the disease.
"This early detection on admission helps us to tailor the care we provide including having a specialist team see high risk diabetic patients within 24 hours of them being admitted to hospital so we can manage their diabetes as well as treating their other conditions.
"Diabetes not only increases the risk of a person needing hospitalisation but being in hospital can also exacerbate their diabetes so this testing program plays a crucial role in improving clinical outcomes for people with diabetes," she said.
Diabetes Australia has launched the 'It's About Time' campaign as part of this year's National Diabetes Week to encourage the early detection of the disease and earlier treatment, particularly of type 2 diabetes.
"We're testing patients above the age of 54 but diabetes can affect younger people also and can leade to a range of health complications," Associate Professor Ekinci said.
"Diabetes is the leading cause of end stage kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplantation and can also significantly increase the risk of heart disease, blindness and the need for patients to have limbs amputated.
"I would encourage everyone to speak with their GP about being tested because the sooner we know a patient has diabetes the sooner we can start to treat it and manage these risks," she said.