Type 2 diabetes: an update for community nurses
There are now over four million people living with diabetes in the UK, the majority having type 2 diabetes. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rising in line with growing obesity levels. This article will explore prevalence of type 2 diabetes, its prevention and treatment. It also provides guidance on how nurses can work with people at risk of diabetes, to prevent it, induce remission and create awareness of medications used to treat it.
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which over time, can lead to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin by itself. However, the most common type is type 2 diabetes, usually seen in adults, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn't produce enough of it. In the past 3 decades, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in countries of all income levels (WHO, 2021a).
In the UK, and globally, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen in line with growing obesity levels (WHO, 2021a: WHO, 2021b). In the UK, diabetes mellitus (DM) affects 7.4% of the population but 15% of those with severe mental illness (Diabetes UK, 2021; Public Health England, 2018). Figure 1 illustrates the increasing numbers of people in the UK with diabetes (Diabetes UK, 2021).
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