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Diabetes is widely recognized as one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. In 2000, it was the sixth leading cause of death. However, diabetes is likely to be underreported as the underlying cause of death on death certificates. About 65% of deaths among those with diabetes are attributed to heart disease and stroke.
Diabetes is associated with long-term complications that affect almost every part of the body. The disease often leads to blindness, heart and blood vessel disease, strokes, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage. Uncontrolled diabetes can complicate pregnancy and birth defects are more common in babies born to women with diabetes.
Who gets diabetes?
Diabetes is not contagious. However, certain factors can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Ethnicity is a large factor in diabetes. Exercise, diet, and weight are also prime factors in the development of diabetes.
According to recent estimates, the prevalence of diabetes in the United States is predicted to grow to be 8.9% of the population by 2025, due to changes in the size of ethnic groups in the United States, as well as the trend towards obesity and lack of exercise.
How is diabetes managed?
Today, healthy eating, physical activity, and insulin via injection or an insulin pump are the basic therapies for type 1 diabetes. The amount of insulin must be balanced with food intake and daily activities. Blood glucose levels must be closely monitored through frequent blood glucose checking.
Healthy eating, physical activity, and blood glucose testing are also the basic management tools for type 2 diabetes. In addition, many people with type 2 diabetes require oral medication, insulin, or both to control their blood glucose levels.
When blood glucose levels drop too low (a condition known as hypoglycemia) a person can become nervous, shaky and confused. Judgment can be impaired. If blood glucose falls too low, a person can faint. A person can also become ill if blood glucose levels rise too high, a condition known as hyperglycemia.
The more closely blood glucose levels are monitored and corrected, the fewer complications will arise as a result of the diabetes.
For information on diabetes or to locate a support group in your area, go to www.diabetes.org.