According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the world-wide diabetes epidemic continues to grow with 366 million cases diagnosed. In 2011 alone, diabetes caused 4.6 million deaths and racked up $465 billion in healthcare costs.
The new figures were revealed in the New Diabetes Atlas publication at the Lisbon meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
“IDF’s latest Atlas data are proof indeed that diabetes is a massive challenge the world can no longer afford to ignore. In 2011, one person is dying from diabetes every seven seconds. The clock is ticking for the world’s leaders,” says IDF President Professor Jean Claude Mbanya.
Closer to home, the Chronic Disease in Maryland report (released in March 2011) reveals diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the state, directly implicated in 1,198 deaths in 2009. The report admits that number is probably on the low side because diabetes contributes to many other deaths from heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
Type 1 diabetes makes up 5-10% of all cases of the disease. The body no longer makes insulin, which means sugar can’t enter cells to be processed into energy. The sugar just builds up in the bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors, but a specific cause is unknown.
With type 2 diabetes, the cells can’t properly use insulin. While experts haven’t been able to pinpoint an exact cause, we do know that being overweight is strongly linked with the development of type 2 diabetes (although not every person with type 2 diabetes is overweight).
Additional risk factors for diabetes include:
- body mass index (BMI) over 25
- family history of diabetes
- 60+ years of age
- Hispanic, African American, or Native American origin
- having a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- inactive lifestyle
- high blood pressure
- poor cholesterol levels
If you identify with several of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about being tested. He or she may order a fasting blood glucose test, which involves a simple blood draw.
The American Diabetes Association also offers a screening tool called Diabetes PHD (Personal Health Decisions), which takes information like your height, weight, cholesterol levels, and other health details and crunches the numbers to show your current risk for diabetes, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and foot and eye complications. Then you can see how making lifestyle changes (like quitting smoking or losing weight) can improve your health outlook.
If you’re living with diabetes, the FMH Diabetes Center can help you manage the disease through its Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) program. This outpatient program is designed to help participants learn more about diabetes and how best to cope with it, including fitness, meal planning, blood glucose monitoring, medications, and other factors. Everyone in the program receives a free A1C test at baseline and again at three- and 12-month follow-up visits to monitor their progress.
If you’re interested in joining the DSME program, please contact the FMH Diabetes Center at 240-379-6045 or firstname.lastname@example.org.