It’s the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. About 10% of Americans, more than 20 million people, have it, and that curve moved up like the Matterhorn from just 1% in 1958. About a fourth of Americans over age 65 suffer from it, more than 11 million people. Most people who suffer from diabetes are not even aware of it, and the elevated blood sugar level known as prediabetes includes nearly 90 million more Americans. Altogether, about a third of the people in the nation are afflicted with diabetes or are in imminent danger of developing it.
Not only is diabetes shockingly widespread, but its effects are extremely severe. It can attack everything from your legs to your kidneys to your eyesight. It makes people twice as likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack. It costs about a quarter of a trillion dollars a year in medical expenses and lost productivity.
If diabetes were considered a national security threat, we would be hearing of little else on the news. If 3.4 million people around the world died every year from an armed conflict, we’d probably call it a World War. Thank goodness no single national security risk is as deadly as diabetes.
Yet, because it’s a silent disease that often progresses for years before showing symptoms, we cruise along instead, needing a month of observance to remind us of this serious threat.
This Year’s Theme – Gestational Diabetes
More than 8% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes today, up from less than 5% in 2010. Fortunately, women with good access to pre-natal healthcare discover the condition in time to deal with it through diet, exercise, and medication, avoiding complications with delivery. Bringing the condition to awareness is the key, and expectant mothers under a doctor’s care are unlikely to remain unaware. Providing that access to more mothers, then, is a key point of this year’s National Diabetes Month theme.
Though healthy foods, exercise, and medication – if necessary – can help relieve or manage gestational diabetes, those mothers who do develop it are then at elevated risk for diabetes later in life. For them, vigilance must become a way of life. It’s a way of life we all should share, though, in view of how common and how severe the threat is today for all of us.
The Vital Importance of Awareness
Your family physician can test for diabetes or signs of prediabetes. Of the three main kinds of test, the one used most frequently, the FPG, measures fasting plasma glucose – the level of blood sugar after eight hours of fasting. It’s a blood test usually taken first thing in the morning, and a normal level is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (100 mg/dl). Prediabetes is considered a blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/dl, and diabetes is indicated by blood glucose of 126 mg/dl or higher. Depending on your score, your family physician can point to steps you can take to reduce your score or lower your risk.
To put awareness on your side, get tested now and find out what you can do to reduce the risk of diabetes for you and your family. Just call us at 843-815-6468.