Diabetes in America

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There are 26 million Americans living with diabetes today.

Roughly 79 million more have pre-diabetes, and many of them might not even know it.

That’s about one third of the American population affected by diabetes in one way or another.

And it is going to get worse. It’s projected that one in three Americans will have diabetes by the end of 2050. Think of yourself and your two closest friends, your parents, your children. According to these predictions, one of you will get the disease.

That is pretty daunting. With greater than 8 percent of our population currently afflicted, we are spending a huge amount of money treating the disease. Care, complications, and their collateral damage, things like disability payments and lost wages, added up to $174 billion in 2007 alone.

Uncontrolled diabetes is one of the leading causes of the following complications: blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and non-traumatic amputation.

Now the key word there is “uncontrolled.” When diabetes is properly managed, the wind goes out of its sails and the risk of complications declines drastically.

And the first step to controlling diabetes is finding out whether or not you have it.
If this sounds like you; you may be at risk.

  • Are you over 45?
  • Do you have a family history of diabetes?
  • Are you a member of any ethnic groups (Asians, African Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians) who are particularly prone to developing diabetes?
  • Do you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or polycystic ovary disease?
  • Are you sedentary and overweight?
  • Did you deliver a baby weighing more than 9lbs, or did you have gestational diabetes?

If you answered yes to some of these, then get testedit is easy and practically painless.
Diagnosis happens in one of four ways:

  • Fasting blood glucose: You fast overnight (at least 8 hours) and have your blood drawn in the morning. Anything over 126mg/dl confirmed twice is diagnostic of diabetes. Numbers between 100 mg/dl and 126mg/dl indicate pre-diabetes.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) This test measures blood glucose after a person fasts at least 8 hours, and again 2 hours after the person drinks a beverage containing glucose.
    • A reading of 139mg/dl and below is normal
    • A reading between 140 and 199mg/dl is pre-diabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance
    • A reading of 200mg/dl and above is a positive diagnosis for diabetes.
  • Causal blood glucose and symptoms: This blood test can be taken anytime during the day, without fasting. A glucose level of 200 mg/dl and above may suggest diabetes. To be diagnostic of diabetes, it needs to be confirmed a second time. However, one value with clinical symptoms like polyuria (frequent urination), poly dypsyia (excessive thirst), weight loss, and blurred vision is also confirmatory.
  • A1C (mean glycated hemoglobin over a 3 month period) above 6.5 percent. Five point seven to 6.4 percent indicates impaired glucose tolerance.

Preventative measures can make a difference. Even if you are overweight and have a family history, you can avoid Type 2 diabetes by exercising and losing just 7 percent of your body weight. These actions can help to lower America’s diabetes total, making for a healthier nation.

And regardless of whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, proper management is the key to keeping away complications and to living a long, happy, and healthy life.

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