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The unhealthy elephant in the room

I have just come away from an extraordinary ‘workshop and walking’ week-end with a great friend, Hugo Tewson.

Hugo has innovation in his genes (his sister is Jane Tewson, founder of Red Nose Day).  He is currently working with a breakthrough technology group who are aiming to vastly reduce the pool of 1m people in the UK who are currently undiagnosed diabetics (i.e. they have a irreversible chronic condition whose outcome is massively influenced by the speed at which they are diagnosed – on average, a diabetic is diagnosed after about 8 – 10 years and by that stage 50% have complications). This group are overwhelmingly unaware of their condition and the implications of sliding into a spiral of declining health, quality of life and aspiration.

Up to 8m prediabetics who are likely to become diabetic over the next 10 years unless an intervention is made. Prediabetes, a recently recognised phenomenon, whilst carrying its own health risks, e.g. a greater propensity towards heart disease and many of the other complications of diabetes, can be reversed – often within weeks and with small changes such as a little more exercise, small dietary changes, weight loss of 3 – 5 lbs or a low cost pill. From the nation’s point of view the implications are enormous.

Here are some of Hugo’s government sourced statistics: It is the single biggest cause of blindness, kidney disease, lower limb amputation and increases the likelihood of heart attack by 3 – 6 times. 1 in 10 health £’s are spent on diabetes but 1 in 5 spent on diabetics [due to their complications]. The condition has been described as the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by Sir George Alberti(Chairman of Diabetes UK and the UK’s first Diabetes Csar). A Sunday Times article suggested that by 2025 diabetes could account for up to 33% of all UK healthcare expenditure.

Huge is involved with a firm who are on the road to making the screening of diabetes, prediabetes and indeed of vascular disease – not much more difficult than taking your temperature. With an easy-to-use home kit this innovation combines the convenience of home-testing with the quality of laboratory tests and the safety of professional patient management. For the sake of the 1 million undiagnosed and the 8 million prediabetics I hope they are successful.

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Categories: technology
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