The Sad State of Diabetes Complications in America

A report released at a recent meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), called “The State of Diabetes Complications in America,” has revealed some pretty depressing facts about the consequences of diabetes today.

Approximately three out of five diabetic people have at least one complication, such as heart disease, stroke, eye damage, foot problems, or chronic kidney disease.  One out of three has two complications, and the numbers mount from there:  one out of ten has three complications, one out of fifteen has four, and one out of thirteen has five.

Annual healthcare costs for a person with diabetes are about three times that of someone without diabetes. In 2006, we spent $22.9 billion on direct medical costs related to diabetes complications, not including costs related to lost employment, premature death, and disability. Add that to the $37 billion spent yearly to treat diabetes itself, and the total reaches staggering proportions. Treatment for each and every person with diabetes averages almost $10,000 every year, and patients pay about $1,600 of that out of their own pockets.

In 2005, the AACE found that most (66 percent) people with type 2 diabetes did not achieve the recommended A1c of 6.5%.  Lifestyle changes combined with aggressive drug treatment could change that, but they’re not being sufficiently implemented. For example, the National Eye Institute estimates that ninety percent of the blindness from diabetes is preventable. Unfortunately, fifty percent of people already have complications by the time they’re diagnosed with diabetes, making it clear that intervention is coming along much too late in the game. 

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Sources:  State of Diabetes Complications in America

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