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Feature Article

Type 2 diabetes: why a timely diagnosis matters

Neale Cohen

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Abstract

General practice is playing an increasingly vital role in the early diagnosis of diabetes. Screening of all high-risk patients using risk assessment tools or blood glucose testing is now recommended. The aim of an early diagnosis is to reduce long-term diabetes-related complications, and trials studying the effects of early aggressive treatment in people with diabetes have generally shown significant benefits.

Key Points

  • Type 2 diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in countries all around the world and the prevalence of diabetes is still rising despite improved knowledge and therapies.
  • Diabetes is a largely asymptomatic condition with potentially severe complications, including microvascular and cardiovascular disease. Many patients already have complications at the time of diagnosis.
  • Screening for diabetes is recommended using the Australian type 2 diabetes risk assessment tool (AUSDRISK) for all people over 40 years of age and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 15 years of age.
  • Definitive diagnosis using blood glucose testing is recommended in high-risk groups, including those scoring over 12 using the AUSDRISK tool.
  • HbA1c testing is not as yet indicated or funded for diagnosis of diabetes in Australia but this is likely to change in the near future.
  • Early aggressive therapy in people with type 2 diabetes is likely to be the best strategy to prevent diabetes-related complications.

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