In North America, Western Europe, Australia and Japan, most people with diabetes are aged over 50 years of age, and are at a very high risk of heart disease. In these countries, studies have estimated that between 15% and 41% of middle-aged people with diabetes already have cardiovascular disease (mean age of study populations: 50 to 69 years). People living in Africa and Central Asia have the world’s highest rates of age-standardised cardiovascular disease mortality, and rising economic growth will be associated with higher rates of diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.
However, it is difficult to estimate the global burden of heart disease in people with diabetes, due to lack of data and standardisation. Only 41 countries worldwide have high-quality data on heart disease in people with diabetes, and even in these countries there are diverse definitions and classifications of heart and vascular disease. IDF believes that in the absence of standardized methodology it is difficult for policy makers to determine specific health targets that ensure adequate resources are allocated to diabetes care and prevention.
The International Diabetes Federation calls on governments to instigate the following four policies:
- Use international standards for conducting epidemiological studies
- Implement policies and lifestyle interventions to increase healthy eating and physical activity
- Prioritise access to essential medicines to control blood pressure and diabetes
- Implement non-communicable disease monitoring systems