November is National Diabetes Month, a time to promote diabetes awareness. Almost everyone knows someone who has diabetes.
An estimated 24 million people in the United States, or about 7.8 percent of the population, have diabetes, a serious lifelong condition. Of the 24 million people with diabetes almost 5.7 million people have not yet been diagnosed — they are not aware they have diabetes. Each year, about 1.6 million people aged 20 or older are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program.
For Kentuckians, the statistics on diabetes is alarming. In 1998, only 5.6 percent of the population had been diagnosed with diabetes. As of 2009, 11.4 percent of Kentuckians are estimated to have diabetes compared to the 8.3 percent of adults nationally.
Diabetes is increasing among young adults. In 2000, less than 2 percent of Kentuckians 35 to 44 years of age had been diagnosed with diabetes. By 2008, that number has increased to 8 percent. Diabetes has also increased in the older adult population of Kentucky. In 2000, approximately 14 percent of those 65 and older had diabetes. In 2009, that number had increased to 22 percent.
Experts believe the increased rate of diabetes is due to several factors. Many Kentuckians are at immediate risk of developing diabetes due to high rates of obesity and inactivity. It is estimated by the CDC that almost 30 percent of adult Kentuckians are inactive. We are not referring to exercise; people are just not moving and being active. In Kentucky, 38 percent of adults have high blood pressure and 30 percent report high cholesterol levels, according to the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.
Fifty-seven percent of adult Kentuckians have been tested for diabetes in the past three years. Of those tested, 8 percent have been diagnosed with “pre-diabetes,” which means their blood sugar levels are above normal, but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. Almost 227,000 Kentuckians have been diagnosed with “pre-diabetes” and just like diabetes this puts individuals at risk for cardiovascular diseases.
The impact of undiagnosed and untreated diabetes is complications such as heart disease, lower extremity amputations, kidney failure and blindness. These complications can cause lengthy hospital stays for individuals and also place a strain on an already taxed health care system. To improve the situation with diabetes in our community, people first must know they have diabetes or that they have risks for developing diabetes. If you have one of the risk factors for diabetes you should see you doctor or primary care provider for a screening. Risk factors include:
— anyone 45 years of age or older;
— being overweight;
— having a parent or sibling with diabetes;
— your family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Hispanic/Latino;
— you have had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds;
— you blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or you have been told you have high blood pressure;
— your cholesterol levels are not normal;
— you are inactive, you exercise fewer than three times a week.
The Health Department is offering diabetics a new education opportunity. Diabetes Basics classes will be offered on the following dates:
— Nov. 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Clark County Health Department, 400 Professional Ave.
— Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Clark County Health Department, 400 Professional Ave.
This is an abbreviated version of the Diabetes Self-Management Series. It is a good option for people who have just been diagnosed with diabetes and are waiting to get into a diabetes self-management series class or who have never been to class.
Call the Health Department at 744-4482 to be added to a sign-up list.
The Clark County Health Department offers a variety of services for the community and families, including well child, immunizations, family planning, WIC and HANDS. For more information, on any of the programs, please call the department at 744-4482 or visit the website at www.clarkhealthdept.org or at Facebook.