Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Life Is Sweet Thanks to a New Diabetes Treatment; in Association with the NHS: Diabetes Is a Debilitating and Often Dangerous Condition, but Thanks to a New Treatment the Risk of Low Blood Sugar Is Being Minimised. Health Reporter JANE PICKEN Spoke to One Tyneside Patient about Its Benefits

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Life Is Sweet Thanks to a New Diabetes Treatment; in Association with the NHS: Diabetes Is a Debilitating and Often Dangerous Condition, but Thanks to a New Treatment the Risk of Low Blood Sugar Is Being Minimised. Health Reporter JANE PICKEN Spoke to One Tyneside Patient about Its Benefits

Article excerpt

Byline: JANE PICKEN

MUM-of-two Tracy Halpin's life could hardly be sweeter right now, thanks to a tiny machine which ensures she has just enough sugar in her body.

The 43-year-old, from Heworth, was diagnosed with Type 1, insulin dependent, diabetes in 2001. But now a new treatment available to Gateshead NHS patients is helping her cope with the condition.

Tracy now carries round a tiny electronic insulin pump in her pocket, meaning she does not have to rely on regular injections to save her from a debilitating hypoglycaemic - or low blood sugar - attack.

Such attacks can strike some sufferers almost without warning and, without swift action from family or friends, be lifethreatening.

They prevent many patients driving or using machinery and so rule out some types of work.

"I've had to use insulin ever since I was diagnosed," explained Tracy, who runs a commercial cleaning company with husband Andrew.

"My injections became increasingly frequent and it was getting more and more difficult for me to do the most ordinary things.

"Going out for a meal with friends was always a challenge because of the strict diet, but it had reached the stage where going shopping or walking left me exhausted.

"Now I have reclaimed my life. Sure, I still have to be careful with food, but other than that I am absolutely fine.

"As soon as I started using the pump, the change was instant. It's amazing."

Although investment in diabetes treatment is increasing, the number of those with the illness is continuing to increase.

In the North East alone there are 83,000 people with the condition and a further 190,000 are thought to be obese - one of the main risk factors in developing diabetes.

Thankfully, the North East has a specialist centre at Newcastle General Hospital to help those patients. Initially, Tracy was sent there for her pump.

But now Gateshead NHS Foundation Trust have trained a team of medics to start and monitor patients on the treatment.

Diabetes specialist Dr Kilimangalam Narayanan, said: "Rather than relying on a boost of insulin every few hours through an injection, patients are administered very accurate doses in tiny amounts throughout the day.

"This allows an extremely tight control of blood sugar levels, which is important for two types of patients, particularly those like Tracy who suffer low sugar attacks with little or no warning and women with diabetes wanting to have children."

So far the Gateshead team - which includes diabetes specialist nurse Michele Hook and diabetes specialist dietician Claire Potter - has fitted just two patients with the tiny pumps, which are around the size of an MP3 player. Each costs around pounds 3,000 and a further pounds 1,000 a year to run.

It is hoped more patients with Type 1 diabetes will now be able to benefit from a locally-delivered insulin pump service. …

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