Diabetes fifth-leading cause of death -- and rising
Diabetes is a preventable disease with no known cure. It is the fifth-leading cause of death in America and seems determined to storm its way up the rankings.
Raising awareness about it might be the only way Americans can break free of the epidemic grip it has on our country. There are scores of campaigns, locally and nationally, to do just that.
In Minnesota, the HealthEast Foundation chose diabetes care as the recipient of its annual fundraising event in November, says Marsha Hughes, director of diabetes care at HealthEast Care System in St. Paul.
"We've identified a tremendous need here," says Hughes. "We're interested in doing more community-based programs." Offering blood sugar screenings at grocery stores, for example, is one way to get to people before full-blown diabetes gets to them, she says.
Nationwide, the American Diabetes Association launched a huge information campaign in November, dubbing it American Diabetes Month. As the month draws to a close, here are some local and national statistics to consider:
· About 7 percent of Americans have diabetes, and about 5.5 percent of Minnesotans are diabetic.
· Every three minutes, diabetes kills one American and is diagnosed in six others. In Minnesota, the death rate from diabetes increased 50 percent between 1990 and 2000.
· The number of Minnesotans with diabetes increased 45 percent between 1994 and 2003.
· American Indians, African-Americans, Asian Americans and Latino Americans are at a greater risk for developing diabetes than whites.
· If current trends continue, one-third of all Americans and one-half of minorities born in 2000 will develop the disease.
· On average, Americans with diabetes incur medical expenses that are 2.4 times higher than those without the disease.
· Diabetes accounts for 32 percent of all Medicare expenditures.
· In 2002, health care costs for diabetes were $132 billion. By 2020, those costs will approach $192 billion.
· Diabetes care cost Minnesotans $2 billion annually.
· While death rates for stroke, heart disease and cancer have declined since 1987, the death rate from diabetes has increased 45 percent.
· Exercise and a healthy diet can help prevent diabetes.
Sources: Minnesota Department of Health, the American Diabetes Association
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