Here is an overview of diabetes, a disease that affects millions of people around the world.
Diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. The disease can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, limb amputations and premature death.
People with diabetes or certain other underlying medical conditions are more likely to become seriously ill if infected with Covid-19, according to the CDC.
Worldwide, the number of people living with this life-threatening disease has quadrupled since 1980, to around 422 million, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
37.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, or about 11.3% of the population. 8.5 million (23%) adults with diabetes are undiagnosed.
Diabetes was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States in 2020, according to preliminary data from the National Vital Statistics System.
There are several types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic. Before developing type 2 diabetes, people almost always have prediabetes. Research has shown that some long-term damage to the body can occur during prediabetes.
Type 1 diabetes develops when the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, the only cells in the body that make insulin. This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults. Only 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes can be autoimmune, genetic, or environmental. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or cells do not use insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and in adults it accounts for approximately 90-95% of all diagnosed diabetes cases. It is associated with older age, obesity, family history, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity. It is more common in African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently.
Gestational diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. It affects about 4% of all pregnant women. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes does not mean that a woman had diabetes before conceiving or that she will have diabetes after giving birth.
Other types of diabetes result from genetic conditions, surgeries, medications, infections, and other illnesses. These types of diabetes represent 1-5% of all diagnosed cases.
Unexplained weight loss
Sudden changes in vision
Numbness in the hands or feet
Slow healing wounds
Adults with diabetes have death rates from heart disease about two to four times higher than adults without diabetes.
The risk of stroke is two to four times higher in people with diabetes.
People with diabetes are at high risk for high blood pressure
Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
Between 60% and 70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage or neuropathy.
1.4 million new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States.
In 2019, approximately 96 million people aged 18 or older had prediabetes.
About 286,000 people under the age of 20 have diabetes.
$327 billion – Cost of treating diabetes in the United States in 2017.
1921 – Insulin is discovered by Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best.
November 16, 2012 – The CDC publishes a report showing that 18 states recorded an increase of 100% or more in the prevalence of diabetes from 1995 to 2010. Forty-two states recorded an increase of at least 50%.
January 17, 2014 – For the first time, the US Surgeon General’s report on the health consequences of smoking includes data indicating that smoking can cause diabetes, as well as erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, ectopic pregnancies and impaired immune function. Smokers have a 30-40% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to non-smokers.
May 4, 2015 – A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation detects a possible link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
September 28, 2016 – The Food and Drug Administration approves a so-called artificial pancreas. The first-of-its-kind device, the size of a mobile phone, monitors and treats patients with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes.
September 28, 2017 – FDA approves ‘first-ever continuous blood glucose monitoring device’ that doesn’t require patients to prick their fingers for blood samples.
December 2, 2019 – An estimated 18% of adolescents ages 12 to 18 and 24% of young adults ages 19 to 34 in the United States have prediabetes, according to a JAMA Pediatrics study spanning 2005-2016.
May 15, 2022 – In its semi-annual Diabetes Bulletin, the CDC notes a decrease in newly diagnosed diabetes cases after nearly two decades of continuous increases. In 2019, the number of newly diagnosed American adults fell from a high of 9.3 per 1,000 in 2009 to 5.9 per 1,000 adults.