Health

It’s National Diabetes Month: Here’s What You Need to Know

November serves as National Diabetes Month and gives focus to a disease that affects 122 million Americans and affects various demographics and populations.

“Awareness of the epidemic of diabetes is critical to stopping the rise in cases across this country. Diabetes is the most common chronic underlying condition, as well as the most expensive chronic condition in the U.S.,” said Dr. Robert Gabbay, Chief Scientist and Medical Officer for the American Diabetes Association [ADA].

Black, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous, Asian American and Pacific Islander populations are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Those who have a parent or siblings with diabetes, are overweight, physically inactive, have high blood pressure or take medicine for it, have low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides, had diabetes during pregnancy or have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome all have higher chances of having diabetes according to Dr. Gabbay.

Dr. Gabbay said awareness of the diabetes epidemic remains important when trying to stop cases from increasing throughout the country.

“Even more concerning, 88 million Americans have prediabetes and are unaware that they have this condition. The time to take a big step up and fight this disease is now before more Americans fall victim,” Dr. Gabbay said.

Prediabetes is a condition where a person has high blood sugar levels but are not high enough that they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes according to the CDC. Prediabetes is a result of cells in the body that do not respond well to insulin that your body naturally makes which eventually leads the pancreas not being able to handle or keep up with all the insulin developing in the body. This leads blood sugar levels to rise and can lead to type two diabetes according to the CDC.

According to the ADA, their research suggests that the estimated total cost of diagnosed diabetes rose to around 327 billion dollars in 2017, which is a 26 percent increase from 2012. Further results in their research indicated that of the 327 billion dollar cost, 237 billion dollars of that was of direct medical costs and $90 billion dollars was in reduced productivity.

The goal is to “bend the curve on the number of individuals affected by complications with diabetes,” Dr. Gabbay said. He further explained how diabetes continues to be the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations and greatly increases chances of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“Providing knowledge, tools and actionable information to both clinicians that care for people living with diabetes as well as people affected by diabetes, we aim to improve health outcomes.  We know that by ensuring that people with diabetes manage a goal for glucose (measured by A1c), blood pressure and cholesterol by screening for early complications, we can dramatically bend the curve of complications,” he said.

The ADA has set up events throughout the month of November to spread awareness and better educate the public on diabetes and ways people can manage the disease. The theme of the program this year is “The Big Step Up” and it’s broken up into weeks. The first week focuses on awareness and provides resources on watching out for symptoms and educating those who may be at risk. The second week focuses on early detection to prevent serious complications from occurring. The third week focuses on diabetes management and how those diagnosed with the disease can still lead a healthier life with dieting, exercising and education. The last week of the program focuses on highlighting and celebrating small wins on the journey of learning and managing the disease.

More information about ADA’s initiatives for National Diabetes month can be found on their website https://www.diabetes.org.

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