About two-thirds of people with diabetes, the fifth-biggest cause of death, have failed to maintain good blood glucose control, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday.
Last year, 9,281 people died of diabetes, it said.
With a survey in 2007 showing that 8 percent of the population aged 20 or over had hyperglycemia, the administration said that implies there are now an estimated 1.5 million people aged 20 or above with high blood sugar levels.
The authority said that while a recent survey showed that there has been an improvement in diabetes control, as many as 65 percent of people fail to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
It said research shows that one in four diabetics risk amputation due to foot ulcers.
A local study also showed that the prevalence rates of diabetic foot ulcers and of subsequent amputations with diabetes were 1.3 percent and 0.7 percent respectively, the agency said.
The amputation risk is 9.2 times higher in male diabetics and 11.6 times higher in female diabetics, compared with those without the disease, the survey showed.
HPA Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said that diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that can, if not well controlled, damage blood vessels and nerves, leading to stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, retinal detachment, lower limb gangrene or amputation.
“Patients with nerve damage might initially feel unwell, and by the time they visit a hospital because of a foot injury, their condition may already be pretty serious,” Taichung Veterans General Hospital director of Endocrinology and Metabolism Lin Shih-yi (林時逸) said. “Sometimes [the affected part] turns black and has to be amputated.”
Chiou said that the best strategy to protect diabetics from amputation is “to have a foot examination once a year, take good care of their feet, quit smoking, and maintain good control of their blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipids.”