THIS REVIEW PROVIDES A STATUS REPORT ON THE EPIDEMIC of type 2 diabetes mellitus that is affecting many of Canada‚s First Nations. We focus on the published literature, especially reports published in the past 2 decades, and incorporate data from the Aboriginal Peoples Survey and the First Nations and Inuit Regional Health Survey. We look at the extent and magnitude of the problem, the causes and risk factors, primary prevention and screening, clinical care and education, and cultural concepts and traditional knowledge. The epidemic of type 2 diabetes is still on the upswing, with a trend toward earlier age at onset. Genetic-environmental interactions are the likely cause. Scattered intervention projects have been implemented and evaluated, and some show promise. The current health and social repercussions of the disease are considerable, and the long-term outlook remains guarded. A national Aboriginal diabetes strategy is urgently needed.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality worldwide. Renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockers have been indispensable in diminishing the macrovascular and microvascular complications of diabetes. In addition, cumulative evidence from retrospective studies pointed toward a beneficial effect of RAS agents in preventing the development and progression of T2DM. This disease-modifying potential of RAS blockers has been substantiated by recent prospective trials. Contemporary concepts regarding the natural history of T2DM and the pathophysiologic processes involved have increased our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic potential of these agents in diabetes management. In addition to their established roles in the primary prevention of CVD in patients with diabetes, RAS blockers might be considered a suitable therapeutic choice for preventing the development of frank diabetes in high-risk patients.
Efforts to reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes include attempts to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Landmark clinical trials have shown that lifestyle modification programs focused on weight loss can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in subjects at high risk of developing the disease. Building on this knowledge, many community-based studies have attempted to replicate the trial results and, simultaneously, payers have begun to cover diabetes prevention services. This article focuses on the evidence supporting the premise that community prevention efforts will be successful. Unfortunately, no study has shown that diabetes can be delayed or prevented in a community setting, and efforts to replicate the weight loss achieved in the trials have been mostly disappointing. Furthermore, both the clinical trials and the community-based prevention studies have not shown a beneficial effect on any diabetes-related clinical outcome. While the goal of diabetes prevention is extremely important, the absence of any persuasive evidence for the effectiveness of community programs calls into question whether the use of public funds or national prevention initiatives should be supported at this time.