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CDC: 26 Million Americans Have Diabetes

Analysis Shows Many in U.S. Aren’t Even Aware They Have Diabetes
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 26, 2011 -- The CDC says about 26 million adult Americans have diabetes and that 79 million more have prediabetes, a condition that raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not so high as to result in a diagnosis of diabetes.

“These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease to prevent serious complications such as kidney failure and blindness,” Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, says in a news release. “We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.”

The report says 8.3% of Americans of all ages and 11.3% of adults aged 20 and older are affected by diabetes. What’s more, about 27% of Americans with diabetes, or about 7 million people, do not know they have the disease.

About 35% of adults age 20 and over have prediabetes.

Diabetes Cases Rising

The number of people with diabetes is apparently rising, according to the CDC. It says that in 2008, about 23.6 million Americans, or 7.8% of the population, had diabetes and 57 million more had prediabetes.

The CDC’s new report says one reason more people have diabetes is that people are living longer with the disease. Better management of diabetes is improving cardiovascular disease risk factors and reducing such complications as amputations and kidney failure.

The CDC says as many as third of U.S. adults could have diabetes by the year 2050 if current trends don’t change.

According to the CDC, type 2 diabetes, in which the body gradually loses its ability to use insulin, accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes cases. Risk factors include obesity, family history, older age, sedentary lifestyles, race, ethnicity, and having had gestational diabetes, which only occurs during pregnancy.

Groups at greatest risk include African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska natives, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific islanders.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

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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