Chennai: At the Hariharan Diabetes and Heart Care Hospitals, Nanganallur, doctors and nurses in uniform were moving to and fro and the hospital was bustling with activity.
With anxiety writ on their faces and case files in their hands, a stream of patients, were waiting for their turn to see the doctor.
Expressing shock at his high sugar levels, V. Ramani (73), who checks his fasting and postprandial (PP) blood sugar levels every month, said “I cannot believe that my PP sugar level has shot upto 288 mg/dl from 149 mg/dl just four months ago in spite of regular medication”.
Dr.R.S Hariharan, Founder of the hospital, said that the increase in diabetic centres in Chennai is due to a manifold rise in the number of people affected by the disease. He pointed out that uncontrolled diabetes has long term consequences like damage to large and small blood vessels which can lead to heart attack, stroke and problems with the kidneys and eyes.
Though Dr. Hariharan said that the number of diabetic centres have increased in Chennai, neither the Department of Health nor the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation were able to provide any data.
Quoting that there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of patients this year compared to last year, Dietician, C. Sripriya working at the same hospital, said that they are witnessing a steady rise in the number of young patients in the age group of 20 to 40 years. The hospital treats approximately 180 patients per day. “Pregnant women are also affected by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) these days”, she said.
“Watch out for symptoms such as sudden weight loss, increased thirst, increased hunger and frequent urination and get your blood sugar levels tested”, advised Sripriya.
She recommended a diet comprising of fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, no sweets, whole wheat products which can help slow the absorption of glucose in the blood.
The diabetic centres in Chennai are on the rise because of unhealthy food habits, lack of sleep, stress and lack of exercise, said Dr. V.N. Raju a diabetologist, with the Airports Authority of India, Meenambakkam.
Explaining in detail, he said, unhealthy food habits include skipping breakfast, starving oneself to reduce weight, not drinking enough water, eating junk food like salty chips and candy.
He said lack of sleep these days is caused because of shift work and demanding jobs. He added that stress is a physical or emotional factor that causes mental tension and can lead to diabetes.
“Physically inactive people are also at the high risk of developing diabetes”, added Dr. Raju.
Lifestyle modification is an effective tool for the prevention of diabetes and this is urgently needed to curb the rising burden of diabetes, he remarked.
S. Tamizharasan, Quality manager at Hi Care Laboratory, Adambakkam, said that he received 60 blood samples for testing sugar levels this month as opposed to 50 last month.
Pradeepa, Director of Operations, Medsugar, Madipakkam said that they received 105 blood samples in November 2019, 115 in December 2019 and 105 in January 2020. She added that the numbers increase by 30% with newly diagnosed patients and if quality care is given, the numbers will reduce.
Attributing the increase in diabetic cases due to genetic problems, Divya Sekhar, Sales manager, Apollo Pharmacy, Velachery, said that the pharmacy has witnessed an increase in sales of Janumet tablet and Gluformin tablet prescribed for treating diabetes.
Dr.Raju also said that with the rising number of diabetic centres, there is a psychological fear instilled in the mind of people that there is no cure for the disease and their health condition will deteriorate. “Some centres have become commercial centres instead of treatment centres”, he added.