Singapore’s efforts to combat diabetes has been a focus for a while now. In April 2016, the Ministry of Health (MOH) committed S$1 billion a year to this cause. In his 2017 National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong strengthened the nation’s call-to-action against diabetes by highlighting the disease as one of the key long-term issues to address. Since then, diabetes has continued to be a trending topic in Singapore.
While these initiatives have been successful, most of the conversation so far has focused largely on prevention. There is an opportunity to take these efforts even further to support patients who have already been diagnosed, and are at a higher risk of developing complications.
For example, did you know that high or unregulated blood glucose caused by diabetes often leads to serious complications such as stroke and heart attacks? Yet 1 in 3 diabetic patients in Singapore have difficulty maintaining consistent blood sugar. The result? Half of the total number of heart attack victims in Singapore also have diabetes.
For those with diabetes, taking medication on time, maintaining a healthy, stress-free lifestyle with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise is crucial to avoid heart complications. But it goes beyond that. Patients and their caregivers need to start having heart-to-hearts with their doctors to find out how susceptible they are to heart disease based on their condition, medical history, and lifestyle.
Some questions patients and caregivers can start with include:
- Am I at risk of a heart attack, stroke, and other complications?
- What other factors are contributing to my risk of heart disease?
- What measures can I take to reduce these risks?
Having in-depth and open conversations with your doctors will go a long way towards helping you manage diabetes and its complications. While prevention remains important, if you already have diabetes, or know someone with diabetes, we can all take steps towards better health by knowing these risks and educating our loved ones.