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Diabetes Care Getting Better

Encouraging Trend Still Leaves Room for Improvement, Researchers Say
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 3, 2006 -- Diabetes care in the U.S. is improving, but not as much as experts would like.

"Overall, quality of care for people with diabetes has improved in the past 10 years, but important opportunities remain for further improvement," write the CDC's Jinan Saadine, MD, and colleagues in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Saadine's team studied data collected from two national surveys. The surveys included U.S. adults aged 18-75 with diabetes in 1988-2002.

The researchers checked whether diabetes care changed during that time. Benchmarks included blood sugar and cholesterol control, blood pressure control, eye and foot exams, flu vaccination, and aspirin use to lower heart risks.

Study's Findings

The surveys showed improvements in diabetes care including:

  • Better cholesterol control
  • Increased use of eye and foot exams
  • Rise in flu vaccinations
  • Better self-monitoring of blood sugar level
  • Increased aspirin use

Those changes are "encouraging," write Saadine and colleagues. But they note that the findings weren't totally rosy. For instance, blood pressure didn't improve, and no major shift was seen in blood sugar control.

The researchers report that:

  • 2 in 5 diabetes patients still have poor LDL 'bad' cholesterol control.
  • 1 in 3 still has poor blood pressure control.
  • 1 in 5 still has poor blood sugar control.

The statistics don't include women with gestational diabetes, which can occur during pregnancy.

Diabetes Rising

Nearly 21 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. That number is projected to reach 39 million by 2050, the researchers note.

"Ensuring access to and delivering high-quality care for all people with diabetes should be a national priority," write Saadine and colleagues.

A journal editorial states that the study's main finding is that "millions of Americans remain at high risk for the complications of diabetes despite the new evidence and campaigns to educate the public and the medical profession."

The editorialists agree with Saadine's team that America needs to step up its diabetes care.

"If we succeed, we will improve the prospect of healthier lives for tens of millions of Americans," write the editorialists. They included Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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