Warning signs:Threats like rising obesity rate could make diabetes an epidemic
October 2, 2006
In the meantime, Flynn and others will work to monitor their own diabetes cases and raise money to find a cure.
If you go
•What: Walk for Diabetes
•When: Saturday, Oct. 14 in Portsmouth, N.H., and Sunday, Oct. 15 in North Andover
•Where: Portsmouth walk starts at Portsmouth Middle School. North Andover walk leaves from Merrimack College.
•How: For details on participating in either event and other sites around New England, visit www.diabetes.org/walk
Diabetes poised to swamp our health-care system
One in three children born in America in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime if present obesity rates continue. Rates are more alarming for Hispanic children: one in two will develop diabetes.
Source: National diabetes statistics from the federal government
North of Boston hospitalization rates from diabetes
•Caritas Holy Family % 99
•Beverly % 81
•Lawrence General % 76
•Anna Jaques % 59
•Merrimack Valley %32
•Addison Gilbert %32
Source: State health data for fiscal year 2003
Type 1 diabetes
•Unusual weight loss
Type 2 diabetes*
•Any of the type 1 symptoms
•Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
•Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
•Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
•(*Often, people with Type 2 diabetes have no symptoms)
Diabetes and the dollar
Diabetes cost Americans $132 billion in 2002. That includes $92 billion in direct costs and $40 billion in disability, work loss, and premature death.
Source: American Diabetes Association
Answering questions about diabetes
Q: What is diabetes?
A: Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in production or action of insulin, a hormone that helps convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. It can lead to serious complications and premature death, but people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risks for complications.
Q: What is the cause?
A: The cause is really a mystery, although both genetics and environment appear to play a role.
Q: How many Americans live with diabetes?
A: The latest estimates show that 20.8 million people in the United States have diabetes.
Q: How frequently does it occur?
A: Every 21 seconds, another American is diagnosed with diabetes. In Massachusetts alone, the number of people who have diabetes could fill Fenway Park eight times over.
Q: Does everyone who has diabetes recognize that they have the disease?
A: No. Nearly one-third of the people who suffer from diabetes go undiagnosed. Many are unaware they have the serious disease until they are struck by a life-threatening complication such as heart attack, stroke, and loss of feeling in extremities. Some 14.6 million people living in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes, but another 6.2 million are unaware they have the disease.
Q: What are the different types of diabetes?
A: Type 1 diabetes, once called juvenile onset diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin. Patients must inject insulin daily to stay alive. Type 1 occurs most frequently in children and young adults.
Type 2 diabetes is far more prevalent, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases. This type of diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough or properly use insulin.
Gestational diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed in some women during pregnancy.
Q: Who is at risk?
A: People who are older than 45, obese, physically inactive, have a family history of diabetes or prior history of gestational diabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance at risk for Type 2. Certain ethnicities, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, some Asian Americans and native Alaskans are also at risk.
Q: Do children get Type 2 diabetes?
A: Unfortunately, yes. Doctors are finding more and more cases of Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, particularly in native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic/Latino Americans. Many believe this is related to higher rates of obesity in children. Though still relatively rare - 400 to 600 diagnosed per year - the rising rates are alarming.
Q: How is diabetes treated?
A: To survive, people with Type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump. Many people with Type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose by following a healthy meal plan and exercise program, losing weight, and taking oral medicine. Some people with diabetes also require need to take medicine to control cholesterol and blood pressure.
Q: What other fatal diseases are complications of diabetes?
A: Nearly two-thirds of people with diabetes die of heart disease and stroke. The risk of developing heart disease and stroke are 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.
Q: What can I do to reduce the chance of these medical problems happening to me?
A: Adults with diabetes should work together with their health care providers to control the levels of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Source: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2005; American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org
Where to find help if you suspect you have diabetes:
•Your medical provider
•Diabetes support groups and clinics offered by local hospitals and health centers
•American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/diabetes and www.cdc.gov/nchs
•Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, http://cms.hhs.gov
• Department of Veterans Affairs, www.va.gov/health/diabetes
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