Diabetes: Who’s at Risk

Diabetes is a serious public health burden in the US. It affects over 30 million people, while another 84 million people have prediabetes. Each year, about 2 million people get diagnosed with diabetes.

The disease is broadly classified as type 1 or type 2, although 95% of diabetes patients are diagnosed with type 2. Your likelihood of developing it increases with age and about 25% of people over the age of 65 currently have diabetes. Over 14 million visits to the emergency room in 2014 were attributed to diabetes and costs associated with diabetes treatment and care add up to more than $300 billion per year in the US. It is one of the leading causes of death and disability that significantly impacts American workforce, and directly or indirectly contributes to 6 out of the 10 top causes of death in the US.

Diabetes has an enormous impact on the nation and it has to be taken seriously by all stakeholders, including citizens and policymakers. Preventing and/or treating it does not require a large supply of heavy machinery. Screening, early detection, and individualized long-term treatment plans put in place as early as possible can be lifesaving.

About 95% percent of all diabetes is Type 2, where the body has trouble processing blood sugar due to insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with weight and is more likely to be found in overweight individuals. If diagnosed and treated early, Type 2 can be managed mainly with diet and exercise. Because Type 2 diabetes often does not present with symptoms early enough, it is extremely important to know if you are at a higher risk for developing it.

The risk of type 2 diabetes is higher in individuals who are obese, follow an unhealthy diet, physically inactive, have a family history, have delivered a baby that weighed over 9 pounds, has a history of gestational diabetes or belongs to an ethnic minority. Other risk factors include pancreatic diseases such as inflammations, alcoholism, or trauma.

There is growing consensus that training and deploying enough dietitians and diabetes educators will have the most impact on the disease burden. Well-planned, long-term, lifestyle modification presents a unique opportunity for even preventing type 2 diabetes.

What is true nationwide is also true in each state. Here in the NC, all triad counties have at least 10% their adult population with diabetes. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Preventative methods include adopting healthy dietary habits that bring about weight loss and regular exercise. Type 2 Diabetes is unique in that most of the treatment happens at home, by the individual, which is why diabetes education is a vital piece of the puzzle. It is important to educate, engage, and empower individuals diagnosed with diabetes to participate in the decision-making process at the earliest opportunity.

Research shows that prevalence of diabetes complications is declining despite the rapid increase in the incidence of diabetes. This trend is possible because of a combination of factors, including better medications, evidence-based guidelines and better laboratory tests to measure the risk of complications.

Individuals who are diagnosed with diabetes should talk to their provider about developing a treatment plan customized to their health condition and personal needs.

Cone Health has an exceptional network of endocrinologists, primary care providers and other related healthcare professionals dedicated to educating the community about type 2 diabetes and how they can take steps to prevent, control, and lower risk of complications of the disease.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Gebre Nida is an endocrinologist with Reidsville Endocrinology Associates and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Nida completed medical school at Addis Ababa University. He completed his residency and fellowship at Detroit Receiving Hospital at Wayne State University.