Diabetes On Increase Among Older Americans

The number of Americans aged 65 and older diagnosed with diabetes increased by 23% between 1994-1995 and, and 2003-2004.

"The prevalence of diabetes mellitus is increasing, in part because of population aging, but also in younger persons," the report notes. The high rate of existing diabetes also contributes to a high rate of diabetes-related complications and premature death. According to the authors, "awareness of the importance of active monitoring and management of diabetes has become more widespread; however, adherence to recommended practices remains low."

Medicare data for patients diagnosed with diabetes during 1964 (33,164), 1999 (931,722) and 2003 (40,058) was analyzed by Dr. Frank A. Sloan, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. A comparison of this data was run with that of two control groups made up of people without diabetes but of similar race and ethnicity to those with the disease. Death and complications associated with diabetes such as cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, ophthalmic, renal, and lower extremities were recorded.

"The annual incidence of diabetes increased by 23 percent between 1994 to 1995 and 2003 to 2004, and prevalence increased by 62 percent," the authors write. The death rate after diagnosis decreased by 8.3% compared with people who did not have the disease.

"Complication rates among persons diagnosed as having diabetes generally increased or stayed the same compared with those in the control groups during 1994 to 2004 except for ophthalmic diseases associated with diabetes," the authors note. "In some cases, most notably renal events, including the most serious complications, there were increases in prevalence in both the diabetes and control groups."

The authors emphasized that diabetes created a 90% adverse outcome, with coronary heart failure, heart attack, and stroke prevalent, concluding that the problem of providing medical care for people over 65 with diagnosed diabets and paying for it, is growing rapidly.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, January 29, 2008

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