November is National Diabetes Month and we want to dig deeper to help prevent this disease.
Diabetes is the disease that occurs when blood sugar is too high; it currently affects about 37 million Americans, including adults and young people.
It can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart, and is linked to some types of cancer.
It was the seventh leading cause of death in the country in 2019, with 87,647 deaths a year.
People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or stroke as people without it.
There are three types of this disease: type 1, type 2, and diabetes during pregnancy. Type 2 accounts for 90%-95% of all cases.
Type 1 diabetes:
Accounts for 5 to 10 out of every 100 people who have it.
The body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating the body’s insulin production.
Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy.
Type 2 diabetes:
Most often evident during adulthood. However, type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise.
It accounts for the vast majority of people who have this disease – between 90 and 95 out of every 100 people.
The body cannot use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance.
As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that first appears during pregnancy in women who have never had the disease before.
It usually appears in mid-pregnancy. Doctors usually test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes can often be controlled with a healthy diet and regular exercise, but sometimes the mother will also need insulin.
In this month of November, it is a time when several diabetes organizations are directing their efforts and awareness campaigns.
My Health Fair joins these initiatives by calling on the community to learn how you can prevent this disease and how you can manage it if you already have it.
The Massachusetts Diabetes Epidemic:
- In Massachusetts, the prevalence of this disease has been steadily increasing.
- According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2018 approximately 645.000 people in Massachusetts, or 11.1% of the adult population, have diabetes.
- Of these, approximately 162.000 have diabetes but do not know it, greatly increasing their health risk.
- In addition, 35% of the Massachusetts adult population is estimated to have pre-diabetes with blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
- About 27.000 people in Massachusetts are diagnosed with diabetes each year.
- According to https://www.mass.gov/, non-Hispanic black Massachusetts residents (12.3%) and Hispanic Massachusetts residents (11.7%) have higher rates of diabetes compared to non-Hispanic white Massachusetts residents (8.7%).
- Non-Hispanic Black Massachusetts residents have more than twice the rate of diabetes-related mortality compared to non-Hispanic White Massachusetts residents, and more than four times as many diabetes-related emergency department visits.
- Statewide by age group, according to the latest statistics: 25-34 years: 1.7%. 35-44 years: 4.0%. 45-54 years: 7.9%. 55-64 years: 14.7%. 65+ years: 20.4%.
- According to the Massachusetts Diabetes Emergency Department (2013), the rate of diabetes-caused visits among Hispanic residents of Massachusetts, was three times that of non-Hispanic white residents of Massachusetts.
- While non-Hispanic Black Massachusetts residents had more than 4 times the rate of diabetes emergency department visits than non-Hispanic White Massachusetts residents.
An expensive disease
People with diabetes have medical expenses approximately 2 to 3 times higher than those without the disease.
Total direct medical expenditures for diagnosed diabetes in Massachusetts were estimated to reach $5.5 billion in 2017.
In addition, another $2.1 billion was spent in indirect costs for lost productivity due to this disease.
Prevention is in good habits
Several organizations and institutions are gaining new insights into the disease by studying human tissues and human cells.
Understanding what causes diabetes will enable them to develop effective therapies and ultimately find a cure.
Lifestyle changes can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.
Prevention is especially important when there is a risk of type 2 diabetes due to excess weight or obesity, high cholesterol levels, or a family history of diabetes.
Losing weight, getting some physical activity, eating healthy foods, avoiding diets and consulting your doctor are small changes that make a difference.
Information on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.
Readers should direct any questions regarding personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health care professionals.
Our sources: https://www.mass.gov/, https://www.americashealthrankings.org/, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/.