Number of U.S. adults treated for diabetes more than doubled in a decade; it’s a big problem in Kentucky

Diabetes, a bigger problem in Kentucky than in most states, is exploding nationally. The number of U.S. adults treated for the disease more than doubled between 1996 and 2007, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has estimated. About 19 million adults said they had been treated for the disease in 2007, up from 9 million in 1996, AHRQ reports. And the figures don’t include perhaps millions of pre-diabetics who haven’t been treated or even diagnosed.

Newswise, a news service about research, reports the AHRQ numbers also show:
• Costs for outpatient care doubled nationwide from about $5 billion to about $10 billion.
• Total prescription costs jumped from $4 billion to $19 billion. Patients paid an average of $1,048 for prescription meds in 2007, compared to $495 in 1996. (Read more)
Kentucky’s trends are also alarming. In 2009, Kentucky was ranked fourth highest in the nation in prevalence of diabetes. A fact sheet from the state Diabetes Prevention and Control Program shows 8 percent of Kentuckians aged 35 to 44 were diagnosed with the disease. In 2000, less than 2 percent in the same age category had it. Prevalence is also increasing in seniors. In 2000, 14 percent of seniors 65 and older had diabetes. In 2009, 22 percent did.
The impacts of the disease are significant, the fact sheet indicates. In 2007, diabetes accounted for about 18 percent of hospitalizations in Kentucky, or almost 120,000 hospitalizations.
Why is diabetes increasing? Officials with the state diabetes program blame high obesity rates (30 percent of Kentucky adults), low rates of physical activity (30 percent of are considered inactive), and large shares of the population with high blood pressure (38.5 percent) and high cholesterol (30 percent).
The federal Centers for Disease Control also assess the ramifications of the disease. For a county-by-county estimate of diabetes diagnoses, go here.
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