WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT DIABETES?

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It is the leading cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation, yet nearly 25 percent of people who have it don't even know it. This November, during American Diabetes Month®, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is asking "Why should you care about diabetes?"

Chances are, you or someone you love has been affected by diabetes in some way. But even if you haven't been affected by diabetes, you need to know that diabetes is the biggest public health crisis of the 21st century, and it continues to grow to epidemic proportions. Nearly 24 million children and adults have diabetes. The death rate for diabetes has continued to grow since 1987, while the death rates due to heart disease, stroke and cancer have declined.

Having diabetes places a person at increased risk for a number of serious, even life-threatening complications, including:

Heart disease and stroke - Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.

Blindness - Diabetic retinopathy causes 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year making diabetes the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age.

Kidney disease - Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of new cases in 2002.

Amputations - More than 60% of nontraumatic lowerlimb amputations occur in people with diabetes.

Remembering the 'ABCs of diabetes' can help to prevent or delay the onset of these serious diabetes complications:

A1C - For most people with diabetes, it is important to keep their A1C (average blood glucose level over 2 or 3 months) less than 7 percent.

Blood Pressure - People with diabetes should have a target blood pressure of less than 130/80 mmHg.

Cholesterol - LDL (bad) cholesterol should be below 100 mg/dl; HDL (healthy) cholesterol should be above 40 mg/dl for men and 50 mg/dl for women; triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dl.

For more information about American Diabetes Month, please visit the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org or call 1-888-DIABETES (1-888-342-2382). Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.

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