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Health And Family

Double trouble: Diabetes and cardiovascular disease

OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes - The Philippine Star
Double trouble: Diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Have you checked your blood sugar lately?

If you smoke, have an unhealthy diet, drink alcohol, don’t get much sleep and exercise, have a stressful job and are overweight, it’s about time you do. Because, if left unchecked, having uncontrolled blood sugar or diabetes could be a major health risk.

In a webinar titled “Heart of the Matter: Minimizing Disease Risk to Optimize Diabetes Care,” conducted recently by Zuellig Pharma Corporation through its commercialization arm ZP Therapeutics, health experts warned that a person with diabetes is “two to four times more likely to succumb to heart disease.”

It is further exacerbated by the pandemic, where the lack of mobility and limited face-to-face interactions with physicians contribute to Filipinos with diabetes’ inability to control their sugar, which may lead to complications such as heart disease.

The heart of the matter

Diabetes is a pandemic that happened even before COVID-19 was known to all of us. Records show that 11 adults globally have diabetes, and 80 percent of the burden is in low- and middle-income countries. The Philippines ranks fifth in the region with the most cases.

In relation to diabetes and diabetes-related complications, ischemic heart disease and chronic kidney disease have significantly increased as causes of premature deaths in the Philippines in a span of 10 years — from 2007 to 2017.

Data from the Philippine Renal Registry showed that over a period of 10 years, four out of 10 patients suffered from kidney failure due to diabetes.

Another complication caused by diabetes is heart failure. Based on the data from PGH, the two most common risk factors for developing heart failure among Filipinos are hypertension and diabetes.

Generally, the risk of death from heart disease and stroke are more than double for patients with diabetes.

“Without proper care, management, and medical supervision, Filipinos living with diabetes are now in their most vulnerable state from heart disease, especially during the pandemic,” said Dr. Jorge Sison, a cardiologist.

There are many risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. Some can be modified, like smoking, obesity, alcohol intake, and an inactive lifestyle. But others can’t be modified at all, like family history and aging.

“Empirical studies clearly show the relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which is why it is important to highlight the importance of accessible diabetes care and choice of pharmacologic therapies proven to lower risk of cardiovascular complications and deaths within the diabetes community in the country,” stressed Dr. Sison.

Additionally, complications of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases could also lead to additional healthcare costs for patients.

“Recent studies show that the total hospitalization cost of congenital heart failure is in between P19,000 to P41,800. A World Health Organization (WHO) report also revealed that non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes in the country are causing a surge in healthcare and social costs, and welfare support leading to reduced productivity,” Dr. Sison added.

Diabetes care in the time of the pandemic

The World Diabetes Foundation also highlighted the importance of accessible diabetes care and management for persons with type 2 diabetes mellitus, especially during the pandemic.

The international health organization said that the global diabetes community should work together to bring about meaningful change and help more patients with diabetes get the care they deserve.

And so, in commemoration of World Diabetes Day and to heed the call of the International Diabetes Federation, ZP Therapeutics reiterated the importance of making healthcare accessible for more patients, especially as we transition to managing the COVID-19 pandemic in a more endemic manner.

“We believe that raising awareness about the disease and the ways we can manage its complications is the first step in making diabetes care more accessible,” said Dr. Philip Nakpil, medical director of ZP Therapeutics. “Specifically, we advocate for primary cardiovascular prevention, and will continue to work towards ramping up our education efforts on this issue to help provide patient-centered diabetes care in the country.”

ZP Therapeutics’ advocacy aligns well with the gradual transition to preventive care.

“Working with key players in the country’s healthcare ecosystem, we envision helping more Filipinos living with diabetes take a more proactive approach in managing their condition,” Dr. Nakpil added.

ZP Therapeutics will continue to launch educational discussions and academic opportunities to raise awareness about non-communicable diseases and how to prevent them.

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