Professor of medicine/endocrinology at the Diabetes Research Centre, which is part of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Alexandra Butler, explained that more than 8% of the global adult population have diabetes — around 366mn adults — but with three new cases diagnosed every ten seconds, that figure is projected to rise to 552mn by 2030.
As in Qatar, the majority of cases involve Type 2 diabetes.
Speaking before an audience of students and fellow healthcare professionals, Dr Butler explained how the two types present themselves differently.
Type 1 diabetes tends to have a rapid onset and symptoms are often severe; whilst there are two peaks in incidence, in preschool and teenage years, type 1 diabetes can occur at any stage of life.
By contrast, the onset of Type 2 diabetes is typically slower, often occurring over several months, with symptoms that vary in severity.
A family history of Type 2 diabetes is more often present in new sufferers, and whilst the disease usually strikes people over the age of 20, there is a recent trend for Type 2 diabetes to appear in the teenage and even pre-teen years.
However, although different in their clinical presentation, both Type 1 and Type 2 can cause the same microvascular complications, typically nephropathy, neuropathy and retinopathy.
Indicating that there are also potential macrovascular complications that can lead to an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.
She added that regardless of the treatment plans followed, good control of blood sugar is one of the most important factors that contribute to the prevention of complications of diabetes and laboratory tests help determine the type of diabetes and this is critical for the adoption of appropriate treatment for each.
Dr Butler said: "Why does distinguishing between the two types matter. Well, it's down to the treatment.
Type 1 diabetes must be treated with insulin whereas the treatment of type 2 diabetes always starts with lifestyle management. If that is inadequate, then usually the drug metformin is considered to be the drug of choice; after that, you have a range of drugs to choose from, one of which may be insulin, although this usually comes later in the treatment plan."
Dr Butler also discussed future treatment options, notably stem cell therapy for the treatment of diabetes, something that is being actively pursued in the Diabetes Research Centre Stem Cell Group at QBRI.
The lecture was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).