Pace of New Diabetes Cases Shows Improvement

The diabetes epidemic continues, but for the first time in years, an encouraging trend is apparent in the rate of new cases, according to latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first time since 1980, there have been sustained year-over-year declines in the number of diabetes cases diagnosed.

A potential breakthrough can be found in the number of new cases, which have seen consistently higher rates of diabetes for decades — until now.

“From 1980 to 2014, the number of adults in the United States aged 18–79 with newly diagnosed diabetes (annually) more than tripled from 493,000 in 1980 to more than 1.4 million in 2014,” the CDC reports.

But a snapshot of hope has developed within that 35-year period, according to the federal data. Here’s why. From 2009 to 2014, the CDC reports that there were about 1.4 million new cases annually of diabetes, a drop from the peak of 1.7 million cases reported in 2009.


Diabetes Epidemic Slows Down

Annual Number (in Thousands) of New Cases of Diagnosed Diabetes Among Adults Aged 18–79 Years, United States, 1980–2014
Source:  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Diabetes Prevention and Control

The positive trends point to the continued need for prevention and control of diabetes, medical experts say.

“Managing your blood sugar levels when you have diabetes is essential,” said Osnat Shmueli, M.D., a Baptist Health Medical Group physician with Baptist Health Primary Care at Kendall Town & Country. “If your sugar level is too high and uncontrolled for a long time, it can cause long-term harm to your body, including problems with your heart, kidneys and vision.”

For those with diabetes, a healthy lifestyle includes:

  • Good nutrition, including healthy meals and snacks.
  • Exercise and activity.
  • Regular monitoring of glucose levels.
  • Medication or insulin as prescribed.
  • Development of effective problem-solving and coping skills.
  • Follow-up visits with your healthcare team, including your doctor, nutritionist and diabetes educator.

“Knowledge is power. If you have diabetes, you need knowledge to manage your condition and to know what to do,” said Feli Bryant, R.N., a certified diabetes educator at Doctors Hospital.

What are blood glucose (sugar) readings?

If you have diabetes, it’s important to track your blood sugar level several times a day with your glucose meter. This step will tell let you how much sugar is in your blood stream at any point in the day, Ms. Bryant said. In addition to the numerical glucose reading, it’s also useful to record your meals and snacks, exercise activity and your daily medications. “Your log will show how different activities and factors affect your blood sugar levels,” she said.

A daily log will also reveal how you are affected by different situations, including stress and illness and that knowledge will help you make informed choices about managing your health. Ultimately, these choices will help you feel better each day and prevent potential complications linked to diabetes over the long term, Dr. Shmueli said.

“The difficulty in managing diabetes is that once you are diagnosed, the condition requires a lot of work from you as a patient in order to keep it under control. It requires such a lifestyle change. We understand the challenges. That’s why we come together as a team –patient and doctor—to come up with the best plan to help keep the diabetes in check,” Dr. Shmueli said.

How often should you check your numbers?

As part of your routine office visits, your doctor will check your blood sugar levels. But checking your blood sugar levels on your own — several times a day— is a great way to help control diabetes.

What do the numbers mean?

For those with diabetes, low-blood sugar levels can cause immediate, life-threatening situations, and a long-term pattern of consistently high sugar levels places you at greater risk for heart disease and strokes.

Here is a quick rundown of different numbers and blood sugar levels; it’s important, however, to follow the guidelines and recommendations established by your physician.

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): defined as a glucose reading below 70 mg/dl.
  • Critical low: below 60 mg/dl.
  • Critical high: above 400 mg/dl.
  • Test for Ketones: when your blood sugar level exceeds 250 mg/dl.
  • Recommended pre-meal target: 70 – 130 mg/dl.
  • Post-meal target: below 180 mg/dl when the reading is taken one to two hours after the start of a meal.

“Is diabetes, curable? It’s not. But if you can control blood glucose levels you can live a healthy life,” Ms. Bryant said.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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