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Diabetes Complications Cost Billions

Report Shows Cost of Treating Diabetes Complications Is $10,000 per Patient Each Year

Diabetes Complications continued...

And he noted that death rates from heart disease are two- to four times higher in diabetes patients than in heart patients without the disease.

"Every cardiologist will tell you that the diabetics simply don't do as well as patients who don't have diabetes," he said.

The new report is an analysis of data from two large, national studies -- the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).

It was released Tuesday at the AACE 16th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress in Seattle, and was conducted in partnership with a diabetes complications consortium that includes the National Kidney Foundation, the National Federation of the Blind, the Amputee Coalition of America, and The Mended Hearts, Inc.

How to Manage Diabetes

Einhorn tells WebMD that the report makes it clear that patients are suffering needlessly because of poor disease management.

"We have the tools to do it right, so it is clear that we have not focused enough on early detection, early and aggressive treatment, and prevention of complications," he says.

He adds that the patients he sees as medical director of San Diego's Scripps Whittier Institute for Diabetes tend to be educated about the lifestyle changes they need to make to keep their diabetes under control, and they usually receive aggressive, early drug treatment with a combination of medications, if needed.

"As a result we don't see many complications," he says. "We are living proof that complications don't have to happen."

Einhorn points out that patients with early diabetes or those at high risk for developing the disease have traditionally been told to lose weight, exercise, and make other lifestyle changes.

Good advice, he says, but something that most patients just can't or won't do.

"The problem with telling people to go make all these lifestyle changes and come back in six months, is that six months becomes a year and people who need to be on medication often go without treatment for extended periods," he says.

"As a result, 50% of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes today already have complications that took some years to develop. We are obviously late to the game."

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