Diabetes is a chronic condition that involves high blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia). It occurs when the pancreas loses its ability to produce enough insulin, or when the body does not respond to insulin action. When blood glucose levels increase after we eat, the pancreas produces insulin to help change glucose into energy or store it.
In people with diabetes, instead of being changed into energy, the glucose remains in the blood, leading to higher than normal blood sugar levels. People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular (heart-related) diseases, because it is often linked with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and obesity.
There are 3 main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when no insulin is produced
- Type 2 diabetes, known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when insulin has no effect on the body
- Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) occurs in 2 – 5% of pregnant women not previously diagnosed with diabetes. It is often linked with type 2 diabetes.