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This difficult-to-manage disease is now occurring with alarming frequency, affecting Australians at a younger age and certain ethnic groups in particular. Half the people who have the common form called type 2 diabetes do not know it, and there is concern about the complications that can develop while it is untreated.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has determined that there is no justification for general population screening for diabetes in Australia. There is evidence that screening high risk groups is beneficial and the NHMRC and RACGP (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) recommend that people in these high risk groups be opportunistically screened using a stepped approach starting with a fasting blood glucose measurement. The high risk individuals to be screened are:
- People with impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 35 and over.
- Pacific Islanders, people from the Indian subcontinent and people of Chinese origin.
- People age 45 and over who are either obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) or have high blood pressure.
- All people with prior cardiovascular disease i.e. heart attack, angina or stroke.
- Women with polycystic ovary syndrome who are obese.