One Third of Diabetes Sufferers Unaware of Having the Disease
A recent study shows that one out of three people suffering from diabetes isn't even aware of having the disease.
Akinso: A recent study shows that one out of three people suffering from diabetes isn't even aware of having the disease. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 95 percent of all diabetes cases and virtually all undiagnosed diabetes cases are among people with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Catherine Cowie, the lead author, discusses the study.
Cowie: We wanted to know how many adults age 20 and older in the U.S. have diabetes. We used data from a national survey that was conducted during 1999-2002. It is called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were interviewed in their homes to find out whether they had ever been diagnosed with diabetes. But what makes this national survey unique is that participants have a blood sample drawn after an overnight fast. The blood test gives us important information such as whether people have diabetes and don't know it. In other words they've not yet been diagnosed with diabetes. The blood samples also tell us whether people have a form of pre-diabetes called impaired fasting glucose (IFG). If you have pre-diabetes you have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnostic of diabetes. And these individuals are at risk of later getting diabetes. We then compare the prevalence of these conditions in 1999 to 2002 with similar national data from 1988 to 1994.
Akinso: Pre-diabetes, which usually causes no symptoms, is serious because many people with the condition go on to develop type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years. According to Dr. Cowie pre-diabetes increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke even if type 2 diabetes doesn't develop.
Cowie: We continue to find that these conditions, which are undiagnosed, are occurring in a very large percent in the population. Again one-third of people with diabetes do not know they have it and 26 percent of adults in whole population are at risk of getting it. We need to do a better job of diagnosing the one in three people who don't know they have diabetes as well as the people who have IFG. We also need to do a better job of convincing people that they need to adopt healthy behaviors that will prevent these conditions.
Akinso: Some of the healthy behaviors Dr. Cowie referred to include cutting down on the calories and physical activity. The study was published in the June 2006 issue of Diabetes Care. For more information about diabetes, visit www.ndep.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Catherine Cowie