November is American Diabetes Month

November 16, 2011 by Kathy Nellor

The rate of diabetes continues to increase. In 2010, 25.8 million people in the United States were diabetic, and an estimated 79 million people were considered pre-diabetic. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce or respond appropriately to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to absorb and use glucose (sugar) as fuel for the body’s cells. Without a properly functioning insulin signaling system, blood glucose levels become elevated and other metabolic abnormalities occur, leading to the development of serious, disabling complications. Many forms of diabetes exist. The 3 common types of diabetes are:

  • Type 2 diabetes, which results from a combination of resistance to the action of insulin and insufficient insulin production.
  • Type 1 diabetes, which results when the body loses its ability to produce insulin.
  • Gestational diabetes, a common complication of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can lead to perinatal complications in mother and child and substantially increases the likelihood of cesarean section. Gestational diabetes is also a risk factor for subsequent development of type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

Why is it Important?

Almost 25 percent of Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed, and another 57 million Americans have blood glucose levels that greatly increase their risk of developing diabetes in the next several years. Diabetes:

  • Lowers life expectancy by up to 15 years.
  • Increases the risk of heart disease by 2 to 4 times.
  • Is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations, and adult-onset blindness.

In addition to these human costs, the estimated total financial cost of diabetes in the United States in 2007 was $174 billion, which includes the costs of medical care, disability, and premature death.

Are you at Risk for Diabetes?

You may be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Exercise less than 3 times a week
  • Have had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • Are over 45 years old
  • Have high blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Are African American, Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes

Use this checklist to see what else might put you at risk for diabetes

Sources: – Take Steps to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes - Healthy People 2020 Topic & Objectives - Diabetes 

Tags:  Diabetes, Type 1, Type 2, Gestational Diabetes