Prevention against Diabetes

Approximately one in ten people in the Czech Republic suffers from diabetes mellitus, i.e. diabetes that can significantly impair their quality of life. MUDr. Barbora Jónová revealed why early diagnosis is so important and what are the recommended tips for preventing this serious disease.

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Diabetes is one of the most widespread and serious diseases in modern life. How many people in the country suffer from this disease and how many people is it potentially threatening?
The incidence of diabetes in the Czech Republic is significantly increasing, we are talking about a modern epidemic. In the last 20 years, the number of diabetics has doubled. This is mainly due to an increase in obesity due to reduced physical activity and disproportionate energy intake. More than one million people in the country are currently being treated for diabetes. In addition, it is estimated that approximately a quarter of the actual number of diabetics are undiagnosed. We are therefore in a situation where one in ten citizens of the Czech Republic has diabetes. Unfortunately, within Europe, our country is at the top of the list in terms of the number of people with diabetes. The seriousness of this disease is evidenced by the fact that more than 20 000 people die from complications of diabetes in the Czech Republic every year.

Can you summarize what are the risk factors for the development of diabetes?
The risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes, which occurs in approximately 90% of the Czech population, include being overweight and obesity, genetic predisposition, reduced physical activity, high blood pressure, elevated blood lipid levels, older age and a previous history of diabetes during pregnancy.

What warning signs should people look out for and see a doctor early?
Diabetes is an insidious disease mainly because patients do not experience any symptoms for a long time. It is therefore important to take care of prevention, diagnose diabetes early and start treatment before complications develop. If the disease is already at an advanced stage, it manifests itself in frequent urination, even at night, associated excessive thirst, increased appetite, general weakness and fatigue. Skin and urogenital infections and visual disturbances may occur.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes? How do they manifest and which type is more dangerous?
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are completely different diseases in terms of how they occur. In type 2 diabetes, the main role is played by the so-called metabolic syndrome associated with obesity, increased blood fat levels and increased blood pressure, which results in impaired sensitivity of tissues to insulin. It is therefore a relative insulin deficiency. This type of diabetes develops later in life, and was formerly known as “old age diabetes”. Nowadays, however, unfortunately, due to the increase in obesity in children, it also occurs in this age group.
Type 1 diabetes, unlike type 2, is a so-called autoimmune disease where the immune system damages the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It arises overwhelmingly in childhood or youth and requires lifelong treatment with insulin. Symptoms are similar to those of type 2, plus weight loss occurs.
Comparing which type of diabetes is more dangerous is very difficult. Type 1 diabetes occurs in a younger population, so there is more time for chronic complications to develop, but it all depends on how the diabetes is treated. Not only on the part of the doctor, but it depends mainly on the cooperation of the patient.

What are the recommended precautions to prevent the development of diabetes?
Preventive measures for the development of type 2 diabetes are related to the risk factors mentioned above. These include adherence to the principles of a healthy lifestyle, such as a sensible diet and sufficient physical activity. Prevention of type 1 diabetes is much more difficult, also in view of the fact that the cause is still under investigation.

What diet is recommended for diabetes prevention?
A sensible diet with a balanced ratio of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals is recommended. In particular, large amounts of fat, free carbohydrates, sausages, fried foods and large amounts of alcohol should be avoided. Salt should also be limited. On the other hand, it is advisable to increase the intake of fiber, especially in the form of vegetables and wholemeal bread. Last but not least, follow a regular drinking regime.

What level of physical activity is optimal for prevention?
Regular aerobic activity is recommended, ideally 3-6 times a week for 30-45 minutes, at which 60% of maximum load is reached. This is an activity where the person is sweating and breathless but still able to converse. The most suitable sports include brisk walking including Nordic walking, running, swimming, cycling, cross-country skiing or dancing. It all depends on the age, physical condition and associated diseases of the individual.

How often is it appropriate to measure blood sugar in a person with strong risk factors? Is it always necessary to see a doctor for this measurement, or can a glucose meter be used for home use?
As I mentioned, there is a need to emphasize early diagnosis, as this disease can remain asymptomatic for a long time and early treatment will significantly delay or completely prevent the development of chronic complications. Clients with risk factors should have their fasting blood sugar tested at least once a year, and others should be tested at least once every 2 years after the age of 40. Glucose measurement with a glucometer can serve as a reference method, but a fasting venous blood draw is always necessary for diagnosis.

How is diabetes specifically diagnosed, how is the test performed and by whom?
The diagnosis of diabetes is always made by a doctor, based on blood draws. The blood sugar level is determined, or a so-called glycaemic curve is performed, i.e. drinking a standardized sweet liquid and measuring the blood sugar level from fasting and then after 2 hours, or after 1 hour in pregnant women. The blood is also tested for glycated hemoglobin, which indicates the blood sugar level over the last 3 months, and the urine is tested for the presence of sugar. Further detailed tests are carried out to determine the type of diabetes and the progress of the disease.

What diagnostic and treatment options does Health+ offer to clients?
Clients can make an appointment at our diabetes clinic, where we explain everything they need to know and discuss further tests and treatment options. Health+ offers clients comprehensive diabetes care, including complete diagnosis, treatment, education and monitoring of any complications.

Diabetes is an incurable disease. Can you tell us what its treatment consists of today?
The treatment of diabetes is complex and aims to improve the client's quality of life. This means preventing or delaying the onset of complications. We are not only concerned with sugar levels, but also blood pressure, lipid levels and weight development. The foundation is the client's cooperation and adherence to the regimen, which includes the previously mentioned diet and physical activity. Another pillar of treatment is medication in the form of tablets or injections.

Are there any new developments in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of diabetes in recent years?
Diabetology has undergone significant developments in recent years, particularly in the area of medication and in the technologies relating to blood sugar measurement and insulin administration. State-of-the-art products are available to our clients in both tablet and injectable form, which have a significant effect not only on lowering sugar levels but also on body weight, blood pressure and, in addition, protect the heart and kidneys.


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