As new figures reveal an alarming rise in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes across Lancashire, AASMA DAY talks to Chris Bradburn who was diagnosed with the condition by chance but has managed to control it through diet and lifestyle.
As a flight test engineer, Chris Bradburn often attended meetings abroad so had to undergo an annual health medical.
It was during one of these medical checks at the age of 58 that the nurse told Chris there was glucose in his urine and he needed to see his doctor for more tests.
He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
There are 8,682 people across Fylde and Wyre with diabetes, an increase of almost six per cent since 2012.
People with Type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly. Around 85 to 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2.
Chris, now 73, who lives in Freckleton, and is married to Barbara with two children and two grandchildren, says: “It was a real shock to my system to be diagnosed with diabetes.
“Both my parents had late onset diabetes but it was still a shock to be diagnosed myself.
“It was only by chance because of the medical that it was picked up. I had no specific symptoms.
“You can live for around 10 years with Type 2 diabetes with it being undiagnosed either because you don’t realise the symptoms or don’t have any.”
Chris, who worked for BAE Systems in Warton before retiring about 10 years ago, managed his diabetes with diet and lifestyle for about four or five years before being put on tablets to help his body use its insulin more effectively.
Even though around 50 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes end up on insulin as it is a progressive condition, Chris has managed to stave this off by eating well and exercising regularly.
He explains: “Physical activity is key to helping keep your blood glucose levels under control and I go to the gym twice a week.
“By not eating the correct food, you can accelerate the condition. It is not just what you eat but how much you eat and portion control is very important.
“If you manage to control your Type 2 diabetes through diet and physical activity, there is no reason why you can’t live a normal life.”
Chris is now chairman of Diabetes UK South Fylde support group which meets monthly and has regular speakers giving information on different aspects of diabetes.
Chris says there is a number of reasons for the rise in the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes.
Chris says: “One of the biggest risk factors with Type 2 diabetes is obesity. There is also a family predisposition to it.
“There are many other factors but the key is getting diagnosed early as you can then reduce the risk of developing serious complications.
“It is not the diabetes that kills you, but the serious complications which include increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and lower limb amputation.
“But early diagnosis, a healthy balanced diet and regular physical activity will help prevent these.