New analysis has shown that one person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every three minutes in England and Wales.
Figures from Diabetes UK have revealed that more than 200,000 people discovered that they were living with the condition in 2017.
The news comes as the NHS increases its efforts to prevent diabetes by doubling the size of the Diabetes Prevention Programme.
There are around 3.4 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, while as many as 900,000 more are thought to be undiagnosed.
Diabetes can damage the heart in several ways. For example, high glucose levels in the blood can affect the walls of the arteries, making them more likely to develop atheroma – the build-up of fatty material inside your arteries. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
People with diabetes also have an increased chance of having high blood pressure, and diabetes can cause the heart muscle to pump less efficiently.
Around nine out of ten people that have diabetes have type 2, which is largely linked to lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy diet, being overweight and not exercising enough.
John Maingay, British Heart Foundation director of policy and influencing said:
“These startling figures show just how serious an issue diabetes is in the UK, with over 4 million people living with type 2.
“Those with diabetes are up to three times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke and may go on to develop other circulatory problems such as vascular dementia. Combined, these conditions cost the NHS a staggering £1.5 million every hour.
“This could spell trouble for the health service in the future and emphasises the need for the Government and NHS to urgently adopt a bold approach that prevents more people developing type 2 diabetes.
“More action needs to be taken to tackle obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity, and increase the diagnosis and treatment of those living with the condition.”