Managing diabetes with medicines and life-style choices

The use of antidiabetic medicines in Australia has increased substantially since the early 1990s and the trend is continuing, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Use of medicines by Australians with diabetes, presents information on medicines used in the control of diabetes (such as such as insulin and oral blood glucose-lowering medicines) as well as those used for prevention or control of common diabetes complications.

The report shows that between 1990 and 2004 there was a twofold increase in the use of insulin and a threefold increase in the use of oral blood glucose-lowering medicines.

Ms Kathleen O'Brien of the AIHW's Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Unit said the growing use of antidiabetic medicines is consistent with the rise in the number of Australians being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

'An estimated 75% of Australians with diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) reported using insulin or other medicines to manage their diabetes,' she said.

The report also found that people with diabetes reported greater use of medicines for associated conditions such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol than people without diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that can have a major impact on life expectancy and quality of life, especially if undetected or poorly controlled. Common complications of diabetes can include coronary heart disease, diabetic eye disease, kidney disease, and circulatory problems that can lead to foot ulcers and even lower limb amputations.

'A healthy diet and regular exercise are important in managing blood glucose levels,' said Ms O'Brien.

Some people with Type 2 diabetes can achieve blood glucose control through lifestyle measures alone, however many also require antidiabetic medications. All people with Type 1 diabetes require insulin.

'Along with avoiding smoking and maintaining good control of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, these lifestyle approaches also help reduce the risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke,' she said.

9 August 2006

Further information: Ms Kathleen O'Brien, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1220, or 0407 915 851

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel 61 2 6244 1032.