Editorial: Don’t delay screening for diabetes

Mar. 27, 2013 @ 08:09 PM

During the past couple of years, Durham and the state of North Carolina as a whole have held steady when it comes to residents diagnosed with diabetes.

We’ve got about 9 percent of our local over-20 population – 10 percent statewide – afflicted with this disease, according to The Center for a Healthy North Carolina.

That’s higher than the national percentage reported in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC indicated that 25.8 million people or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population were affected by diabetes.

Of those, the CDC reports, 7 million were undiagnosed.

Numbers like that are what make events like Alert Day so important.

On Tuesday, the Durham Diabetes Coalition and American Diabetes Association teamed up to hold a free diabetes screening event on the American Tobacco Campus lawn.

The Herald-Sun’s Keith Upchurch reported that the screenings were meant to raise awareness about the disease and encourage testing, especially for Type 2 diabetes risk factors.

“Diabetes is a serious problem,” said Lisa Pullen Davis, senior project manager for the coalition. “But if you identify that you have it, there are so many resources we can connect you to, and you will be able to live a happy, healthy life.”

Here are some more facts worth knowing about diabetes, from the CDC:

  • In 2010, about 215,000 people younger than 20 had either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in this country.
  • About 1.9 million people 20 or older were newly diagnosed in the United States in 2010.
  • Based on glucose and hemoglobin tests in 2005-2008, 35 percent of U.S. adults 20 and older had prediabetes, compared with 50 percent among adults 65 or older.
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputations and new cases of blindness among U.S. adults.
  • It’s a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States (and, according to the CDC, may actually be underreported).

If that’s not enough to persuade you to get screened, consider your bank account: Estimated costs associated with diabetes in 2007 amounted to $174 billion, with much of that in direct medical costs and the rest in disability, work loss and premature mortality.

Basically, medical expenses double if you’ve got diabetes.

Save your money. Save yourself. Get checked.