ABU DHABI // Up to half of diabetics may be skipping vital medication because their treatment programme is too complex or they fear side effects such as weight gain, a new study suggests.
Doctors told researchers that 50 per cent of their diabetic patients were unable to control the condition because they could not properly manage treatment at home.
If not controlled, diabetes can cause cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney failure, foot ulcers and blindness.
There are 415 million diabetics in the world. Of those, 35.4 million are in the Mena region, and a disproportionate number are in the UAE – 14.6 per cent of the adult population, or more than a million cases in 2015.
“Sometimes people don’t take their medication as prescribed or stop taking it altogether, or they’re resistant to healthy lifestyle changes,” said Dr Amel Bushra El Tayeb, a consultant endocrinologist in Dubai.
Dr Tarek Fiad, also a consultant endocrinologist in Abu Dhabi, said: “A substantial number of people with diabetes struggle with the long list of medicines and start missing doses.
“Besides the heavy load of therapies, patients may skip taking their medication because of undesirable side effects.”
Some patients require a large amount of medication to control their diabetes, often taken several times a day.
“I understand that some become dissatisfied with their medication and elect to stop their treatment,” Dr Fiad said.
“However, it is crucially important to maintain this in order to prevent complications and enjoy a long, healthy life.”
Dr Fiad called for new strategies to help patients who felt overburdened or confused by the responsibility, such as medication that did not exacerbate weight gain, or prescribing fewer but more effective medicines.
“In the past few years we have witnessed the introduction of treatments that do not lead to weight gain or very low blood sugar levels. Another milestone in diabetes therapy was the recent introduction of agents that help lower sugar levels without being reliant on the ability of the body to produce insulin.
“They also help in losing some weight.”
Abbas, 24, a business student in Dubai, has diabetes and has to take several medicines three times a day.
“I don’t miss them. I can maintain having all of these throughout the day,” he said, although he was warned by his doctor that the medication could trigger gain weight.
“Exercising is not a problem, but it’s difficult for me to eat healthily. I am in the habit of eating junk food and chocolate.”
Abbas visits his doctors every three months and has not had to change his medication in the past 14 years.
The study of 200 doctors with diabetic patients was carried out last year by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca UAE.
Source: uae news