Health leaders in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, where an estimated 46,000 people live with diabetes, have called on residents living with the condition or managing their diabetes risk to change their diet and lifestyle amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The calls from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) come after a study, funded by NHS England and Public Health England, showed that people living with diabetes are up to three-and-a-half times more at risk of dying in hospital with COVID-19.
Research from the study also showed that people living with type two diabetes are at double the risk of dying in hospital with the virus.
The CCG made the calls as part of Diabetes Week, which runs until Sunday, June 14, to help people reduce the risk of developing diabetes through healthier lifestyle choices, or to manage their diabetes better.
Dr Jessica Randall-Carrick, clinical lead for diabetes at the CCG and a GP, said: “Learning more about your condition can really help.
“We’re encouraging everyone to use COVID-19 as an incentive to help make a change to your diet and lifestyle, to either reduce your risk of type two diabetes or to improve your diabetes management.”
Maintaining a healthy body weight, stopping smoking, getting more regular exercise and eating well all contribute to reducing a person’s risk of diabetes, which plays a part in preventing, managing and putting diabetes into remission for existing patients.
There are a range of services across the county to help people with diabetes, such as self-help courses, remote peer support groups and dietary advice.
Dr Randall-Carrick added: “Poorly managed diabetes can have detrimental effects on people’s health, and with new research showing significantly higher risk for diabetes patients with COVID-19, now is the time for us to make the positive dietary and lifestyle changes that will help us stay healthy.
“You can self-refer to our online educational courses, including NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) for those with pre-diabetes and MyDESMOND for those with type two diabetes.
“All people with diabetes should continue to check their feet daily and to access their GP or specialist team for support, to help them manage their diabetes better.”
Across the UK, someone gets diagnosed with diabetes every two minutes, and contributes to 169 amputations, 680 strokes and 530 heart attacks every week.
To assess your risk of getting diabetes, go to https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk. Your GP, pharmacist and other services can also help reduce your risk while lockdown restrictions are in place.
For support and information, call the Diabetes UK support line on 0345 123 2399, open Monday to Friday between 9am-6pm.