When Edith James was diagnosed with diabetes in 1994, she wasn’t going to let it take over her life.
She remains active and involved in her local community, but as the convener of a diabetes support group she knows there are others who may miss the early signs and suffer greater complications and consequences.
“Diabetes can lead to eye problems, heart problems, feet problems, you can have a stroke or a heart attack,” she said.
“There are so many people out there who don’t know they have diabetes, it’s good to catch it at the beginning.”
Almost four new diabetes cases are diagnosed every week in Maribyrnong, and one in seven people in the west are affected by diabetes, compared to the Victorian average of one in 30.
Associate Professor Neale Cohen, director of clinical diabetes at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, said the higher rates of diabetes in Maribyrnong were due to complex socio-economic reasons as well as higher prevalence in certain cultural groups.
“You can have type two diabetes and be completely unaware,” he said.
“We recommend screening on a regular basis for people in high-risk groups such as if you have a family history.”
Ass Prof Cohen recommends the first step people should take is speaking with their GP.
The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute has recently shifted its Footscray clinic to Paisley Street.
Assistant Professor Cohen said by co-locating with community health organisation cohealth, it will be able to expand its research.