A comprehensive picture of type 1 diabetes around the world

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A complete portrait of type 1 diabetes in the world

The annual cost of treating the disease is estimated at $30 billion, according to statistics published by Diabetes Canada.

Some 8.4 million people live with type 1 diabetes across the world, two-thirds of whom are between the ages of 20 and 69, reveals a new study that paints a picture of the disease across the globe for the first time ever.

In Canada, it is estimated that approximately 285,000 people will have type 1 diabetes in 2022, and the number of people with it is increasing by 4.4% per year. It is predicted that more than 455,000 people will be living with this disease in Canada by 2040.

This is the first time that we have figures that have some reliability to know exactly how many people there are, said doctor Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, a diabetes specialist from type 1 at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal. To take a recent analogy, it's a bit as if the polls before the elections were very imprecise before, and now, all of a sudden, we finally have a sample that is sufficient.

The margin of error, he continues, suddenly drops from 30% to 6%, which is obviously a significant improvement.

The impact of type 1 diabetes on the length and quality of life of those who suffer from it can be significant. In Canada, for example, it is calculated that an individual who receives a diagnosis at the age of 10 will be deprived of 22 years of healthy life, of which 10.6 years will be subtracted from their life expectancy. .

In other words, a patient diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10 in Canada can expect 61.4 years of healthy lives, shows the new survey. In comparison, the life expectancy of the same patient in a poor country would, on average, be only 13 years.

Finally, it is calculated that 7,450 lives could be saved by 2040 in Canada if all patients with type 1 diabetes had stable access to insulin, test strips by 2023. and the help they need to self-manage their disease. Without this stable access, one in ten patients does not survive after the age of 55, we warn.

Such figures, said Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret, are absolutely essential to guide public health policies, especially when we know that diabetes is a very heavy disease and very expensive to manage, both for the patient and for the network. health.

These are discussions that we have regularly with […] the RAMQ, about the number of people who will be eligible for this kind of thing, he explained. And the past has shown us that quite often the numbers are vastly underestimated compared to reality.

The study will also monitor the number of new cases of type 1 diabetes that are diagnosed each year, he added. Much like it happened with the COVID-19 pandemic, when our healthcare system was on the brink of explosion, I think it was extremely important for the cabinet (of the minister of Health, Christian Dubé) to know the number of new cases, said the specialist.

The study also challenges the long-held notion in medicine that type 1 diabetes is a disease that manifests primarily during puberty, when the patient's immune system goes haywire and begins to destroy pancreatic cells responsible for insulin production.

The survey found that in 2021, 500,000 new cases were diagnosed, but the median age of diagnosis was 39 years. Without knowing exactly why, said Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret, more than half of the cases now are after the age of 20.

This study also allows us to see that the portrait has changed, that people develop the disease on average, yes more frequently, but also later, he specified.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos introduced legislation in the Commons this week for a new national framework to improve access to diabetes treatment and prevention in Canada.

Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu had called for the creation of this new national diabetes framework, in a private member's bill that passed the Commons in June 2021.

In her bill, MP Sidhu said the new framework should determine the training, education and guidance healthcare workers need to promote the treatment and prevention of diabetes, including clinical practice guidelines.

The law also stipulates that the government will have to ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency administers the tax credit for persons equitably, to help as many people with diabetes as possible.

Diabetes prevents the natural production or use of insulin in the body, which reduces blood glucose regulation. It is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation.

The annual cost of treating the disease is estimated to reach $30 billion, according to statistics published by Diabetes Canada.

Last March, 5.7 million Canadians had diagnosed diabetes and 5 million more had prediabetes.

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