More Americans have diabetes, 7 million unaware

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Diabetes
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The CDC reports 26 million Americans have diabetes, and 7 million are unaware they have the disease.

According to the new estimates, another 79 million, or 35 percent of adults over age 20 in the US are headed toward the disease from blood sugars that are higher than normal, or prediabetes.

The CDC calls the diabetes statistics "distressing", saying the findings highlight the need for prevention. Even prediabetes raises a person's risk of stroke and heart disease as well as the chances they will develop type 2 diabetes.

Ann Albright, Ph.D, R.D., director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation says, "We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes." In 2010, 1.9 million Americans were newly diagnosed with the disease.

The main contributors to type 2 diabetes include obesity and being sedentary. Family history also raises the risk, as does advancing age and gestational diabetes. African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are also at higher risk.

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The number of people living with type 2 diabetes has increased, which may account for the rising numbers, according to the report. New therapies have allowed people to live longer after being diagnosed, but the CDC says more people are developing the disease.

Another reason for the increase from 2010 estimates is that type 2 diabetes is more detectable with a hemoglobin A1c test that was incorporated into the statistics for the first time.

In 2008, 23.6 million Americans - 7.8 percent of the population - had diabetes and another 57 million adults had prediabetes. The 2011 reports are not comparable to the new findings, because of the hemoglobin A1c test that provides a better overall picture of blood sugar levels over a period of 2 to 3 months.

In children and young adults under age 20, type 1 diabetes is estimated at 215,000. Half of Americans over age 65 have prediabetes, and 27 percent have the disease. The report also found higher rates that continue to occur in ethnic and minority groups.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Complications of kidney disease, stroke, heart attack and amputations add to the chances of dying from the disease. The CDC is working on the National Diabetes Prevention Program to find ways to prevent diabetes. The new report shows more Americans are developing diabetes, with 7 million in the US unaware that they have the disease.

Source: CDC
"Number of Americans with Diabetes Rises to Nearly 26 Million"

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