The president of the Pharmaceutical Association on 27 July remarked that the discovery of insulin, 100 years ago, "is one of the greatest in the history of medicine" for having saved many lives and guaranteed quality of life for diabetics.
Marking the centenary of the discovery of this hormone, the researcher at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon (FFUL) told Lusa that this was “a milestone only comparable to the discovery of penicillin and the cure for tuberculosis”.
“Before insulin, doctors prescribed absolutely radical diets in which people were so weakened that they ended up in skin and bones, and dying from infections”, explained President Ana Paula Martins.
One hundred years later, insulin is still today “the most important of all therapies for diabetes”.
With the evolution of hormone administration systems, "patients can now adapt more easily to treatment, lead a normal life, with more freedom and even doing sports", which will have contributed to the "reduction of discrimination they were subjected to in the past".
Ana Paula Martins stressed that, “in an era dominated by Covid-19, it is necessary to look again at diseases such as diabetes and it is necessary to create a national registry of patients with type 1 diabetes”.
In this sense, the researcher argued that, "more than the difficulty in accessing health care", the pandemic "may have caused an imbalance in blood glucose levels because people became more closed off and monitored less".
“There was also a delay in accessing diagnoses, which worries me because these citizens are going to lose quality of life. It is not acceptable and we have to invest in prevention and diagnosis”, she said.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 2019 Portugal was one of the two countries in the European Union with the highest rate of diabetes among adults, given that 9.8 percent of Portuguese aged between 20 and 79 years old suffered from this chronic disease.
Diabetes, if not diagnosed or properly controlled, can result in more serious complications such as blindness, kidney failure, or lower limb amputation.
The disease, which results in the body's inability to regulate excessive blood sugar levels because the pancreas cannot produce insulin, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and respiratory infection Covid-19.
Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin, while type 2 diabetics need control medication, diet and exercise, needing insulin only if they have symptoms or high or poorly controlled blood glucose levels.