How to manage diabetes more efficiently

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American adults with diabetes are doing a better job at managing their blood glucose levels, and fewer are developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to data from two surveys* conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is particularly pertinent because more than 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke; they also develop heart disease at least twice as often as people without diabetes.

“These results are promising, and we should take a moment and feel good about that,” said Ann Albright, PhD, RD, ADA President, Health Care and Education, and Director, Division of Diabetes Translation at the CDC. “It also means we need to do even more of the good things we’re trying to do. It’s going to take individuals, communities, families, states, and national efforts, if we’re really going to ever turn the tide for diabetes.”

The incidence of CVD in adults with diabetes was drawn from analysis of a survey conducted over the period of 1997–2005. Data was self-reported by survey participants.

In African Americans with diabetes, the prevalence of CVD decreased a whopping 25 percent. And in all adults ages 35 to 64, a group that includes the majority of newly diagnosed cases, the estimated prevalence of CVD has decreased 14.1 percent. The rate of CVD in women has also dropped, by 11 percent.

This observed decreasing rate of self-reported CVD in people with diabetes is supported by other CDC findings; the agency has found that the rate of CVD hospitalizations among people with diabetes has also decreased. Why is CVD risk decreasing? For one thing, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking rates are dropping among those with diabetes. New treatments, including aspirin and statin therapy, may also play a role, the report suggests.

The decreasing rate of CVD isn’t the only good news. The overall rate of people with diabetes who check their blood glucose at least once a day increased 22 percent. Daily monitoring reported in 1997 was 40.6 percent. This number jumped to 63.4 percent in 2006. This is even more than the 61 percent goal set by the federal government’s Healthy People 2010 initiative.

The increased prevalence of testing can be attributed to several possible factors, one of which is legislation passed in 1997, the beginning of the survey period. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 made it easier for people with diabetes to afford testing supplies, by covering monitors and testing strips under Medicare.

“The ADA has played a key role in the state bills that have focused on the coverage of diabetes supplies and self-management training,” Albright said. “Between those state bills and Medicare covering meters and strip—those are very helpful.”

*The CVD study results were published in the CDC’s Nov. 2, 2007, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.