Better management of blood sugar levels and improved tools for managing heart disease have led to a sharp drop in the death rate for diabetics, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.
Between 1997 and 2006, deaths of diabetics from all causes declined 23% while deaths from heart disease fell 40%, the team reported in the journal Diabetes Care. The finding represents a two-edged sword, however: While improved survival is good for individual patients, it puts an increasing burden on the U.S. healthcare system because of the growing number of people with diabetes. Already, the estimated U.S. cost of diabetes is $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs.
Diabetes has become epidemic in the United States. The number of Americans with diabetes has more than tripled since 1980, primarily due to increases in Type 2 diabetes, which is closely associated with obesity, inactivity and aging. The CDC now estimates that 25.8 million Americans have diabetes and that 7 million of them do not know it. Older data show that, on average, people diagnosed with diabetes in middle age lose an average of 10 years of life as a result of the disease.
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