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NIH Study Shows Big Improvement in Diabetes Control

Findings indicate need for improved care among youth and minorities (Feb. 15)

More people are meeting recommended goals in the three key markers of diabetes control, according to a study conducted and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report — published online in Diabetes Care — shows that, from 1988 to 2010, the number of people with diabetes who were able to meet or exceed all three of the measures that demonstrate good diabetes management increased from about 2% to about 19%. Each measure also showed substantial improvement, with over half of people meeting each individual goal in 2010.

The measures of good diabetes control are A1C — which assesses blood sugar (glucose) over the previous 3 months — blood pressure, and cholesterol. They are often called the ABCs of diabetes. When these measures fall outside healthy ranges, people are more likely to develop complications of diabetes, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.

“The most impressive finding was the significant improvement in diabetes management over time across all groups,” said senior author Catherine Cowie, PhD. “However, we see a lot of room for improvement for everyone, but particularly for younger people and some minority groups.”

According to 2007—2010 data on Americans with diabetes:

  • 53% met A1C goals, compared with 43% in 1988—1994 data
  • 51% met blood pressure goals, compared with 33% in 1988—1994 data
  • 56% met cholesterol goals, compared with 10% in 1988—1994 data

Improved cholesterol control was likely due to the increased use of statins, from about 4% of people with diabetes during 1988–1994 to 51% during 2007—2010, according to the authors. Glucose control was worse in Mexican–Americans and in younger adults. Only 44% of Mexican–Americans met A1C goals versus 53% of whites and blacks in 2007–2010 data. People aged between 20 and 49 years were less likely to meet A1C goals than older people.

About 26 million Americans have diabetes, and another 79 million have prediabetes — a condition that places them at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Between 1988 and 2012, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes has more than doubled, from nearly 4% of the U.S. population to nearly 9%, according to data from the CDC.

Source: NIH; February 15, 2013.

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