Health risks for diabetics on the decline, new research reports

Some of the more serious complications associated with diabetes - heart attacks, stroke, amputations, kidney failure - are on the decline in a major way, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The research, which measured health risks from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, found about a 60 percent drop in heart attacks and deaths related to high blood sugar from 1990 to 2010, reports the New York Times.

“This is the first really credible, reliable data that demonstrates that all of the efforts at reducing risk have paid off,” said Dr. David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Nathan was not involved in the study. “Given that diabetes is the chronic epidemic of this millennium, this is a very important finding.”

Efforts to improve care are working

The declines, researchers said, are thanks to years of effort from doctors, health care providers and patients themselves. Physicians are becoming more skilled at controlling diabetes risk factors, the study reported, while more education about diabetes in general has helped patients adopt better practices of self-care.

The study, which was carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed a large sample size: hundreds of thousands of diabetics who had suffered stroke, heart attacks or died from high blood sugar.

The CDC estimates that diabetes racks up $176 billion dollars in medical expenses per year. And about 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes, which puts them in a critical state - they can either take steps to avoid full-blown diabetes or will end up becoming one of the nearly 26 million people that already have the condition.

Good news, but don't celebrate yet

Dr. Edward Gregg, lead author of the study, says that while the results are encouraging, diabetes diagnoses are still on the rise.

“We have to find a way to replicate these successes, to transfer that knowledge into preventing the disease to begin with,” he said.

Source: New York Times

Image courtesty of zirconicusso /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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