As the UAE battles what experts are calling a health 'epidemic' with one million people diagnosed with diabetes - while another 900,000 pre-diabetic - a new drug is in the market for Type 2 diabetes.
Jardaince, by German makers Boehringer Ingelheim, is also being used to combat cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the most common underlying cause of death, accounting for 52 per cent of worldwide deaths in Type 2 diabetes, according to the World Health Organisation.
The International Diabetes Foundation put this annual figure at 3.2 million deaths around the world from complications associated with diabetes.
The IDF further states in countries with a high diabetes incidence, such as those in the Middle East, as many as one in four deaths in adults aged between 35 and 64 years is due to the disease.
The drug, which is being retailed at Dh260 for a month's dosage of 10mg and Dh310 for 25mg in the UAE, has recorded a 32 per cent reduction in CVD related deaths for diabetics, while a 38 per cent drop in deaths from all causes; the results were generated following a US Food and Drug Administration backed EMPA-Reg Outcome trial carried out over five years, involving 7,000 adults.
Side effects include urinary tract infection and genital diseases.
Shisha stubs out your life
Speaking with Emirates 24|7, Dr Mohamed Farghaly, Senior Specialist at Dubai Health Authority and member of the UAE National Diabetes Technical and Guideline Committee, elaborated the burden of health on diabetic patients who were oblivious to a sedentary lifestyle, with increased cardiovascular implications for smokers.
“In the Middle East, battling an addiction to smoking shisha – that accounts for 200 cigarettes during a single session – can greatly expose a person to CVD risk, especially with diabetes combined,” he said.
"It is imperative that a holistic approach is adopted to combat Type 2 diabetes, with a focus to educate individuals on the cardiovascular risk associated."
Dr Farghaly further explained that the effects of long-term uncontrolled blood sugar is separated into macrovascular complications (coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, and stroke) and microvascular complications (diabetic nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy).
According to a recent study, in the UAE alone, 66 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women are considered overweight or obese and as a result, as much as 19 per cent of the population suffers from Type 2 diabetes; his can be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle and bad food habits.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, the rate in the Mena region will rise by 96.2 per cent by 2035 with the UAE, Oman, and Qatar predicted to have high growth rates.
Dr Farghaly added: “According to the International Diabetes Federation, in 2015, there are one million diabetes cases in the UAE, where the current cost per person with diabetes in the UAE is $2,155.9 (Dh7,923)."
The current prevalence of diabetes in the UAE stands at 18.7 per cent, with the government committed to reducing this to 16 per cent by 2021.
Dr Farghaly added: "The numbers are potentially indicative of an epidemic, with Dubai alone accounting for 213,000 people with diabetes according to the data collected from E-claims by the DHA for insurance purposes.
"Reducing cardiovascular risk is an essential component of diabetes management. Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are both associated with an increase in CVD risk even in the absence of glucose intolerance.
"Completing the annual cycle of care can help achieve better outcomes for people with diabetes. Regular assessments can prevent complications and other adverse outcomes associated with the disease.”