Diabetes basics


by Novo Nordisk


Posted on October 19, 2010 at 1:45 PM

What is Diabetes?

  • Diabetes results when glucose can no longer be absorbed properly due to irregularities in levels of the hormone insulin that is produced in the pancreas. There are two types of diabetes.
    • Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes) is characterized by the body's inability to produce insulin. Why the body does not produce insulin is currently unknown.
    • Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult onset diabetes) is characterized by a resistance to insulin; 90-95% of people diagnosed with diabetes are diagnosed with type 2. Type 2 diabetes is increasing among young people as the amount of overweight youth increases.
  • Diabetes Symptoms
    • Symptoms of type 1 diabetes may include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability.2
    • Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability, frequent infections, blurred vision, slow healing cuts and bruises, tingling/ numbness in the hands and feet, recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections.

Prevalence and Cost of Diabetes

  • Diabetes impacts millions of people annually, with 1.6 million new cases of the disease diagnosed each year. While cancer and HIV/AIDS may seem more prevalent due to the resource and attention they receive, diabetes is actually the more common chronic disease in the U.S. with nearly 24 million Americans - 7.8 percent of the population - suffering from the disease.
    • On its current course, the number of people with diabetes is projected to nearly double to 44.1 million by 2034 due in large part to the aging of the baby boomer population and increased rates of overweight Americans and obesity.4
    • Diabetes is one of the costliest diseases in America, with total direct and indirect costs for diabetes and pre-diabetes estimated at $218 billion in 2007.

Understanding Diabetes Treatment & Management

  • Diabetes cannot yet be cured, but it can be managed. With the proper diet, exercise, regular blood sugar testing and treatment therapy, people living with diabetes can lead full and active lives.
  • When left untreated or poorly controlled, diabetes can have serious complications, including stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure, blindness, nerve problems and amputations. If detected early and treated properly, complications can be prevented or delayed.
  • Good blood glucose control, or glycemic control has long been established as the cornerstone of successful diabetes treatment, however many patients in the U.S. are not achieving recommended A1C targets, which are a measure of a person's average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months.
    • Adequate patient self-management has been identified as a critical component for successful short- and long-term treatment of diabetes and its complications.
  • For people living with diabetes, healthy eating, physical activity, blood glucose and one or more diabetes medicines including, insulin, pills and other injectable medicine to control blood glucose levels, are the basic management tools for diabetes.
  • Insulin therapy, discovered nearly 90 years ago remains one of the most significant discoveries in the field of medicine and continues to be a mainstay of diabetes treatment as a way to reduce the risk of developing serious complications.7
    • Despite the effectiveness of insulin treatment, several factors have been suspected to impact insulin usage, including needle anxiety, fear of injection pain and inconvenience coupled with psychological barriers to insulin initiation (e.g. social embarrassment).
  • Insulin plays an important role in managing diabetes. To get the full benefits of insulin therapy, people with diabetes need to take it exactly as directed by their physicians. For many patients, it will be important to choose an insulin delivery method that works for their lifestyle, whether it be a vial and syringe or an easy-to-use insulin delivery device.
    • Insulin delivery devices are an integral part of diabetes treatment and the successful outcome of treatment today; however, the adoption rates among physicians and patients in the U.S. are still relatively low.
    • Today in the U.S only 17% of insulin units are delivered through insulin pens (durable, refillable or prefilled disposable insulin pens) compared to 95% and 88% in Japan and Europe, respectively, according to a September 2009 study.8
    • Today there are approximately 10 insulin delivery pens available on the market providing options to diabetes patients to help them actively manage their own health.

Diabetes Impact: Multicultural & Generational Reach

  • Diabetes prevalence increases with age:
    • 23.5 million or 10.7% of all people 20 years of age or older have diabetes
    • 12.2 million or to 23.1% of people age 60 or older have diabetes2
  • Diabetes disproportionately affects minority communities in the U.S. including, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives. The increasingly diverse population of people living with diabetes has created new variables for healthcare professionals to consider when treating patients to ensure they address the beliefs, attitudes and practices of each unique culture or background.
    • One in seven (14.7%) non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 years or older has diabetes though only one in nine has been diagnosed with the disease. This population is 1.8 times as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites aged 20 years or older, 6.6% of who have diagnosed diabetes.
    • One in ten (10.4%) Hispanic/Latino Americans aged 20 years or older has diagnosed diabetes. Among Mexican Americans one in nine (11.8%) aged 20 years or older are diagnosed.
    • One in six (16.5 %) Native Americans and Alaskan natives aged 20 years or older has diagnosed diabetes.
    • One in 13 (7.5%) Asian Americans aged 20 or older has been diagnosed with diabetes.