March 23, 2014

Diabetes Alert Day 2014 - Help Me Sound the Alarm Louder

Tuesday March 25, 2014 is the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Alert Day. Though the statistics about the prediabetes and type 2 diabetes epidemics are alarming enough to sound the alarm 365 days a year, Diabetes Alert Day is THE day each year that the American Diabetes Association sets aside to encourage people to TAKE the Risk Test and if need be, TAKE ACTION to diagnose and care for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes NOW. I fully support this effort!

Yes, the stats are downright scary and clearly show the dent diabetes is and will continue to make in our health care system, let alone peoples’ individual lives and livelihood!

Here's just a few key stats:

  • 26 million children and adults are living with diabetes. (This includes about 6 million people who currently have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed.) Based on the U.S. population, about 314 million, that’s roughly 9.5%. 
  • 79 million people are estimated to have prediabetes placing them at a much greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. CDC estimates that’s about 35% of all adults over the age of 20 and 50% of adults over 65 years of age (yes, you read that correctly!). Unfortunately barely 11% of these people know they have prediabetes.
  • $245 billion dollars/year are spent on taking care of people with diabetes and the related diabetes complications. That’s one in 10 healthcare dollars. Caring for diabetes is rising at a rate higher than overall medical costs. This cost figure from 2012 represents an increase from $174 billion, the estimate from the 2007 cost estimate report from American Diabetes Association - a 41% increase over the five year period.

These numbers are expected to continue to grow. The CDC estimates that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050! (Find more facts about diabetes from CDC

When oh when will we begin as a nation to take diabetes seriously?

Answer: many individuals, health plans and systems, local communities are. Nationally the National Diabetes Prevention Program (aka National DPP) working with many Y’s around the country are. This effort may be expanding. A report recently issued by American Diabetes Association estimates a 10 year cost savings to the tune of $1.3 billion, from the implementation of proposed Federal legislation HR 962/S 452 The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act (MDPA). (To read the complete report).

This act would, if enacted, create a new benefit to provide coverage of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) under Medicare, the government health plan for people over 65 years of age and others who qualify. This Medicare program would be based on the intensive lifestyle management program developed in the Diabetes Prevention Program NIH-funded study. The National DPP was created under the Affordable Care Act and has been in existence several years now and is being delivered in Y’s across the country and other venues. For a complete list of programs in your neighborhood.

This report is one more fact to demonstrate that we can act to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Add to this it's well known from research that when type 2 diabetes is diagnosed early and controlled over time we can delay progression and complications. Yet, millions of people (~6 million) aren't yet diagnosed and many more millions are in denial about the condition or aren't doing enough to achieve control. 

So you ask, what can you do to take Action on this Diabetes Alert Day? Take the ADA Risk Test or encourage a friend, loved one, or colleague to do so. It takes no more than 30 seconds. 

Who should take the Risk Test? Anyone over 45 years of age. If you’re younger than 45, overweight and have another risk factor such as a family history. So do it NOW. If it shows you’re at higher risk, follow up with a healthcare provider ASAP.

Learn a lot more about prediabetes here in one of my recent Washington Post columns.