Diabetes Hit Record Numbers, But Half Remain Undiagnosed

By Amir Khan on November 15, 2012 9:25 AM EST

Diabetes
Diabetes hit record numbers in the past year, according to the International Diabetes Federation, (Photo: Reuters)

Diabetes hit record numbers in the past year, according to the International Diabetes Federation, and even more alarmingly, half of the people with the disease worldwide don't even know it. Diabetes now affects 371 million people worldwide, with 187 million unaware that they have diabetes, the IDF said.

The latest figures show an increase from 2011, when 366 million people had the disease, and while 4 million people died from diabetes in 2011, the IDF estimates that nearly 5 million will die from diabetes this year.

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The results were released on November 14, National Diabetes Day in an effort to bring awareness to the growing problem. "As millions of undiagnosed people develop diabetes complications, we can expect to see the mortality rate climb," Jean Claude Mbanya, President of the IDF, said in a statement. "On World Diabetes Day, we want to raise awareness that this disease can be controlled and in some cases prevented."

High blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes come from patients with pancreas that cannot produce enough insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Traditionally, doctors treat Type 2 diabetes with medications and insulin injections. Risk factors for the condition include excess body weight, high cholesterol, low activity and poor diet, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Between 1980 and 2010, the prevalence of diabetes increased 176 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 12 Americans, 25 million in total, has diabetes according to the CDC. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and nerve damage. The disease was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and cost $174 billion in medical costs, disability and loss of work in 2007, the last year with available data.

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