Aims: To determine the prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) and its complications in the adult population of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and assess the degree of metabolic control in subjects with diagnosed DM.
Methods: A random sample of houses of Emirati citizens living in Al Ain, UAE was surveyed. Fasting blood glucose was determined by glucose meter and an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was conducted if blood sugar was <7 mmol/l. DM was defined according to the WHO criteria. Pre-diabetes status was based on fasting venous blood glucose concentration of 5.6-6.9 mmol/l or 2h post-OGTT venous blood glucose level of 7.8-11.0 mmol/l.
Results: There were 2455 adults (>18) living in the 452 surveyed houses of which 10.2% reported having the diagnosis of DM. A total of 373 men and non-pregnant women underwent testing, and after adjustment for factors affecting participation probability the prevalence of diagnosed DM, undiagnosed DM and pre-diabetes was 10.5, 6.6 and 20.2%, respectively. Age-standardized rates for DM (diagnosed and undiagnosed) and pre-diabetes among 30-64 years old were 29.0 and 24.2%, respectively. Logistic regression analysis showed that only age and body mass index (BMI) were significantly independently related to undiagnosed DM. In patients with diagnosed DM, the prevalence rates for retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, peripheral vascular disease and coronary heart disease were 54.2, 34.7, 40.8, 11.1 and 10.5%, respectively. A significant proportion of subjects with undiagnosed DM and pre-diabetes also had micro- and macro-vascular complications. The proportion of subjects with diagnosed DM who achieved internationally recognized targets for HbA1c (<7%), LDL-C (<2.6 mmol/l) and blood pressure (<130/80 mmHg) was 33.3, 30.8 and 42.1%, respectively.
Conclusion: This study confirms the previously reported high prevalence of DM in the UAE. Diabetic complications were highly prevalent among subjects with diagnosed and undiagnosed DM. Metabolic control was suboptimal in most subjects with diagnosed DM. Greater efforts are urgently needed to screen early and effectively treat DM in the UAE in order to prevent long-term complications.