e9c21d28cda49210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2008-Q2Viagra 'hides symptom of diabetes'd9c21d28cda49210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____Viagra 'hides symptom of diabetes'Men are risking their health by masking one of the effects of diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, by taking Viagra.Men are risking their health by masking one of the effects of diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, by taking Viagra.<p>Men are risking their health by masking one of the effects of diabetes by taking Viagra.
Because of the high prevalence of the disease in the country, men are more likely to experience conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
That can be combated by taking Viagra, but it does not tackle diabetes, a disease which can lead to other problems including heart diseases and loss of eyesight.
The issue emerged at a sexual medication conference in Cairo attended by a senior health delegation from the UAE.</p>
<p>Marking 10 years since the emergence of Viagra, the conference was attended by some of the Gulf's leading professionals in the increasingly studied field.
It also emerged that couples surveyed in the UAE by the makers of Viagra had sex 3.6 times a month on average, the lowest in the Gulf region.
Experts suggested that this could be partly due to an unhealthy lifestyle adopted by many living in the country.</p>
<p>"Many people who suffer erectile dysfunction are cardiac patients," said Prof Tarek Anis, the president of the Pan Arab Society for Sexual Medicine.
"Around 75 per cent of men with cardiac problems suffer from ED, and approximately 50 per cent suffer from other diseases. It is a very important indicator of a man's health and should not be ignored."
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which makes Viagra, reported that 35 million men in 120 countries had used the drug. The company has reportedly sold 180 billion tablets since it was launched in 1998.</p>
<p>Although once a relatively taboo topic in strict Muslim countries, Christian Malherbe, a regional director for Pfizer, said the awareness of the importance of issues such as ED had improved in recent years.
Mr Malherbe also stressed the importance of men not being embarrassed or ashamed to visit their doctor if they experienced ED.
"It is proven that men with diabetes will suffer erectile dysfunction after about 10 years. However, it is also proven that ED can be the first sign of having diabetes. It should not be ignored.</p>
<p>"It can be a predictor for a lot of problems, so men should not be afraid to seek medical advice if they are experiencing problems, especially somewhere like the UAE, where diabetes is so prevalent."
The Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), the largest multidisciplinary diabetes facility dedicated to the prevention and treatment of the disease in the country, said a lifestyle change among nationals was needed to curb the rise of diabetes in the Emirates.</p>
<p>The UAE has the second highest number of diabetes cases in the world, with one out of five people aged 20 to 79 suffering from the condition. Other Gulf countries such as Kuwait and Bahrain follow closely behind.
This said a lot about the region, according to Carol Sansour, a manager with the ICLDC.
"Twenty years ago, people were more active," she said. "There's been a huge shift in the lifestyle [of nationals] and it's not conducive to a healthier body."</p>
<p>The economic boom in the Gulf had turned the Emirates into an oasis of investment and luxury, but with that had come less activity and more food consumption, particularly food that was processed and full of sugar.
When that was added to a genetic predisposition, said Ms Sansour, you had a recipe for a leading killer disease.
Dr Kais Abu Taha, a doctor who treats diabetics in Abu Dhabi, said that the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes - the most common in the Emirates - were not obvious at first.</p>
<p>He said patients may go to the doctor complaining of erectile dysfunction, loss of vision or constant fatigue and not realise these were all symptoms of diabetes.
Indeed, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, almost half of nationals living with diabetes eight years ago did not know they had it.
"We are challenged by the consumer market, and also personal beliefs [about the disease] and lifestyle behaviours," Dr Abu Taha said.</p>
<p>"We need to teach the importance of making the right decisions.
"Let there be fast food places and sweet outlets, the thing is not to eliminate it from your diet, but we are saying use sense and couple it with physical activity and sports."
The most alarming fact is possibly the rise of type-2 diabetes in children, even though the disease normally appears in adults over the age of 40.
"There has been a lot of interaction with schools," said Ms Sansour.</p>
<p>"We sit with kids around ages of 10 and 12 and talk about eating habits and how important being physically active is, and how important it is to choose what you are eating and when you are eating."
Even though some schools still sold fast food in their cafeterias and offered vending machine choices, Ms Sansour said the ICLDC's aim was to teach children to make the right choices, no matter what was available to them.</p>
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