American Diabetes Alert Day is held on the fourth Tuesday of every March to inform the American public about the seriousness of diabetes, particularly when diabetes is left undiagnosed or untreated.
Nearly 21 million Americans -- including approximately 17,000 in the City of St. Louis -- have diabetes, but more worrisome is the fact that more than one-third of people with diabetes (6.2 million Americans) don't know that they have the disease. Further, another 54 million American have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts them at the highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes affects young and old alike, with minority populations in the United States have an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and one in three Americans -- and one in two minorities -- born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime, if present trends continue.
Diabetes is the fifth-leading cause of death by disease in the United States, and people with undiagnosed diabetes may experience damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, and limbs -- without producing any symptoms.
An increase in community awareness of risk factors and symptoms related to diabetes can improve the likelihood that people with diabetes will get the attention they need before suffering devastating complications.
According to diabetes.org, pre-diabetes is a serious medical condition that can be treated. The good news is that the recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study conclusively showed that people with prediabetes can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity. They may even be able to return their blood glucose levels to the normal range. While the DPP also showed that some medications may delay the development of diabetes, diet and exercise worked better. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, coupled with a 5-10% reduction in body weight, produced a 58% reduction in diabetes.
You can help fight this disease and its life-threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and amputation by increasing awareness of the risk factors for diabetes, making healthy lifestyle choices, and providing support to those suffering from diabetes.
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Department of Health