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30 June 2017
Diabetes Mellitus  

Introduction

Insulin is a hormone that is released from the pancreas to facilitate the storage of glucose as glycogen and triglyceride in the body. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disorder characterised by a raised blood glucose level resulting from insulin deficiency, insulin resistance or both. In Type I or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), little or no insulin is produced. In Type II or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), there is reduced insulin secretion and the body cells do not react to insulin. Diabetes increases the risk of cerebrovascular disease, heart diseases, foot gangrene, retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy.

 

Situation in Hong Kong

Classification of diseases and causes of death is based on the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) 10th Revision from 2001 onwards. Figures from 2001 onwards may not be comparable with figures for previous years which were compiled based on the ICD 9th Revision.

Diabetes mellitus corresponds to codes 250 in ICD-9 and E10-E14 in ICD-10.

Diabetes is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Hong Kong. It claimed about 13700 in-patient discharges and in-patient deaths in all hospitals, and 492 registered deaths in 2015. It was the tenth commonest cause of deaths in Hong Kong, accounting for 1.1% of all deaths in 2015. The crude death rates were 7.2 for male and 6.4 for female per 100000 population of respective sex in 2015. The true number of deaths from diabetes is possibly higher since many deaths can be attributed to its late complications. Age-standardised death rates were 3.8 for male and 2.6 for female per 100000 standard population in 2015. From early 1980's to 2000, the age standardised mortality rate showed a general increasing trend but a decreasing trend from 2001. Based on Population Health Survey 2003/04, 3.8% of people aged 15 and above reported that they had doctor-diagnosed diabetes.

Number of registered deaths and crude death rate
of diabetes mellitus by sex, 1981-2000

Number of registered deaths and crude death rate of diabetes mellitus by sex, 1981-2000

Number of registered deaths and crude death rate
of diabetes mellitus by sex, 2001-2015

Number of registered deaths and crude death rate of diabetes mellitus by sex, 2001-2015

Age-standardised death rate* of diabetes mellitus
by sex, 1981-2000

Age-standardised death rate of diabetes mellitus by sex, 1981-2000

Age-standardised death rate* of diabetes mellitus
by sex, 2001-2015

Age-standardised death rate of diabetes mellitus by sex, 2001-2015

 

Notes:

Include both in-patient discharges and in-patient deaths in all hospitals with diabetes mellitus as the principal diagnosis in that episode of hospitalisation.

  Include registered deaths with diabetes mellitus as the underlying cause of death.
  * Age-standardised death rates are compiled based on the world standard population specified in GPE Discussion Paper Series: No.31, EIP/GPE/EBD, World Health Organization, 2001.

 

 

Data in the above charts from 1996 onwards are compiled based on the population estimates under the "resident population" approach instead of the "extended de facto" approach. Also, the 2016 Population By-census conducted from June to August 2016 provides a benchmark for revising the population figures compiled since the 2011 Population Census. Population-related figures from 2012 to 2015 have been revised accordingly.

 

 

Classification of diseases and causes of death is based on the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) 10th Revision from 2001 onwards. Figures from 2001 onwards may not be comparable with figures for previous years which were compiled based on the ICD 9th Revision.

Sources:

 

Census and Statistics Department
Department of Health

 

Symptoms

People with diabetes are often asymptomatic. They can be diagnosed by checking blood glucose level during medical examination. As the disease develops, diabetes may present with symptoms or complications. Possible symptoms include thirst, excessive urination, increased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, poor wound healing and infections. Uncontrolled diabetes causes acute conditions such as severe dehydration and coma.

 

Risk factors

Some risk factors for diabetes include advancing age, obesity, family history of diabetes and lack of physical activity. Diabetes can also be predisposed by some endocrine diseases, pancreatic diseases and drugs e.g. steroids.

 

Prevention

To prevent diabetes, one should maintain an optimum body weight and waist circumference through a balanced diet, regular physical activity and refrain from alcohol consumption. Diabetic patients should have their blood sugar under control through dietary or pharmacological measures.

 

Related information

For more information on diabetes, please visit the website of our Health Zone and the Hong Kong Reference Framework for Diabetes Care for Adults in Primary Care Settings.

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