The Diabetes Pandemic
A Devastating Disease of Unprecedented Proportions
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by abnormally elevated blood glucose levels – the result of deficient insulin production and/or effectiveness. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the two predominant forms of the disease
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus: Formerly called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). It is an unpreventable disease, which can quickly lead to death without daily administration of injectable insulin to regulate blood glucose. Type 1 diabetes represents 5-10% of diagnosed diabetes cases. Autoimmune factors leading to the body’s destruction of its own insulin producing pancreatic beta cells are thought to play a role in disease development.
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus: Formerly called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, or adult onset diabetes. This is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for approximately 90% of cases. Type 2 diabetes arises when the body develops resistance to insulin. Type 2 diabetics either produce an inadequate supply of insulin or their bodies cannot use the insulin properly. This leads to dysfunctional glucose metabolism, impaired cellular processes, and elevated serum glucose levels. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is preventable in most patients with changes to physical activity, diet and environmental conditions.
A Disease of Complications
The vast majority of expenditures and efforts applied to manage diabetes patient care are associated with the life-threatening complications of the disease. These include kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, blindness, and vascular problems that can result in amputations.
Current Standard of Care Lacks Ability to Predict Onset of Complications Far Enough in Advance to Alter the Future
After the onset of diabetes, there is a silent phase lasting from 5-20 years during which the symptoms of diabetic complications remain undetected. Unfortunately for the approximately one third of diabetics who have greater propensity to complications, lack of tight blood sugar control during this time will have devastating outcomes later.
The projected cost of diabetes in the U.S. is USD $3.4 trillion over the ten years through 2020, according to the United Health Group. The majority of that money will go to the many debilitating complications of diabetes including heart and kidney disease, blindness, neuropathy and amputations. The Hemoglobin A1c test, the best assay currently available, is helpful but less effective at predicting which patients are at greatest risk of progression to complications in these studies.