HUNDREDS of Swindon residents are being targeted by a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of a potentially lethal condition they don’t even know they are carrying.
The £2m advertising campaign has been launched by Diabetes UK to raise awareness of the disease’s Type 2 strain, which will run until October 6 in four locations across the town and the rest of the UK.
The organisation has estimated there could be more than 600 people living in Swindon with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
There are also just over 10,300 people in Swindon with diagnosed Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, with 90 per cent belonging to the latter.
The campaign has been driven by survey results which have revealed just 13 per cent of 1,000 people, nationwide, are aware there is a higher risk of death for those with Type 2 diabetes. The survey also revealed fewer than 30 per cent of those surveyed were aware of the increased risk of heart attacks, amputation, strokes or going blind.
Supporting the campaign is npower employee Ian Rooney, 58, who works out of their Swindon office in Whitehill Way, but lives in Corsham.
Ian was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in March 2008 at The Porch Surgery in Corsham as a part of an annual health check-up.
“It wasn’t on my radar, I wasn’t expecting it. It came out the blue,” he said. “It’s an incurable disease. It isn’t going to go away and if you don’t manage it well it’s only going to get worse.”
People with Type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly.
They might get Type 2 because of family history, age, ethnic background, or being overweight.
In practise, the disease means Ian must ensure he always has some form of glucose or high energy drink with him, especially when he is engaging in high-energy activity.
“I can continue to do day-to-day things like outdoor walking, but I have to plan them,” he said.
“I took about two years from diagnosis before I actually started to get on top of the disease. First of all, I didn’t think I needed to worry about it.
“No-one was really screaming about it, so I felt it might not be such a big problem. I had nine months of burying my head in the sand and another year to get on top of it.
“I started to have vision problems and it became blurred because my blood sugar was too low. I had done a bit of exercise outside and some digging in the garden before I began to suffer my first hypo.”
Hypoglycemia is triggered by low blood sugar levels and can lead to sufferers feeling dizzy, hungry, sweaty and struggling with concentration.
And Ian’s advice to those ignoring the symptoms: “Take better care of your body. You need to find a work-life balance. I wasn’t eating the right sort of food because I was working very hard. You don’t realise what the consequence of becoming overweight might be. You never suspect diabetes.
“With diabetes you don’t get a second chance to change your ways. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.”