American Diabetes: Research and Implications

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A synthesis of diabetes trends in the United States in 2010

The growingly common diagnosis of diabetes raises a wide range of practical, medical, and lifestyle issues. The American Diabetes Association is the leading foundation for research and development in the fight to treat and cure diabetes. This organization estimated the United States population affected by diabetes was 6.6% in 1987 (Harris, ADA 1987) and has grown exponentially since that time. The impacts of morbidity, obesity, and mortality that diabetes implicates is among the most common and significant plagues of American society. The reality of diabetes is evolving as researchers respond in real time to a progressing rate of disease.

Diabetes is a chronic and lifelong disease that is marked by high levels of sugar in the blood, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. There are two types that are based on the chronological onset of symptoms, slowly developed or the more dangerous short period of advance. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are blurry vision, excessive thirst, fatigue, nausea, and weight loss. Type 2 diabetes can produce similar symptoms including increased urination and appetite. The immediate threat is diabetic ketoacidosis which can cause kidney failure, heart disease, and may result in the amputation of limbs. People with type 1 diabetes can not make their own insulin and need to inject it.

There are also many subsets of diabetes that each has their own irregularities in symptoms. (Our textbook) refers to diabetes as Diabetes Insipidus scientifically as a condition in which there is inadequate secretion of ADH from the hypothalamus (263). This secretion prevention causes excessive water loss and thirst. Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disorder of metabolizing carbohydrates which causes an imbalance of the supply and demand for insulin in the body.

The number of people dealing with diabetes is rapidly growing and shifting to expanded demographics. The American Diabetes Association has figures for 2007 as the most recent year of records taken. In total, 23.6 million Americans, 7.8% of the population, has diabetes. This figure breaks down to 17.9 million diagnosed people and 5.7 million undiagnosed individuals. Of the affected, the most common demographic is age 60 or older individuals, as 23.1% of all people in the group have diabetes. Men and women are equally affected by this disease. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney failure and blindness among people not born with those conditions.

Of race and ethnic differences, 10.4% of Hispanics and 11.8% of African Americans have diabetes. As an indicator of the seriousness of this disease diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death listed on death certificates in the year 2006. All of these numbers were higher than the previous period of recording. Results of wild insulin regulation in the body can also cause diabetic coma, according to our textbook (265).

The mental and social relationship of diabetes is intertwined. The United States is a society that both embraces and ignores information. Some sectors of society attempt to address and reduce diabetes by embracing better school lunches in schools, boosting activity in children to instill lifelong habits, and writing manufacturers to produce less fatty and processed foods. On the other hand, drive thru restaurants are at an all time high, inactivity has become detrimental, and our increasingly online lives keep us out of the sun and in front of computer screens more than any point in history.

Reduced physical activity is one cause of poor health related to regulation of body levels, fats, and sugars. ABC 7 news reported on October 6th, 2010 during the evening news that Americans average just around 5,000 steps per day while Europeans average more than twice that. Sedentary lifestyles are just as modern a trend as the influx of diabetes cases reported. Before cars and increased modes of mass transit people were walking much more. Before machines began to innovate production there were more physical demands of work and labor and less desk and service related jobs.

For the diagnosed patients, a whirlwind of mental activity is awakened concerning every bit of food ingested from that point forward for may including effects of the actions they take next. Dr. Gretchen Becker advises patents not to worry, rather to focus on making positive changes and being aware of triggers that can be harmful to the body (14). Treating diabetes consists of planned diets to regulate blood sugar levels, glucose lowering pills called hypoglycemic drugs, and insulin in many cases. The costs of medication and regulation can also be prohibitive for low income and fixed income individuals.

Research concerning diabetes is prevalent in many medical publications and journals. One resource with a wealth of data and information on diabetes was presented by primary care physicians led by Dr. Dana Flanders. Dr. Flanders is examining the importance of testing for glycosylated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, and blood glucose control. The goal for the tests is to regulate HbA1c levels below 7% to reduce the micro vascular complications of diabetes (Flanders, 2). Flanders’ research is prompting more primary care physicians to push for quarterly tests of their diabetes patients to help correlate more research to better monitoring of the condition.

Dr. Flanders found that patients in Georgia between 1996 and 1998 that were monitored more frequently were found to have more positive results, a nearly 38% improvement for the diabetic patients involved (6). This finding in Georgia has since influenced other physicians to test more regularly for HbA1c and to educate patients about how to better address their blood level awareness. The success of hemoglobin testing has inspired similar research and testing around the country. Research in diabetes that finds improvement as a result continues to spark more research in more locations hoping to find correlations which can help increase the success of treating the disease.

A second research project concerning diabetes is being underwritten by

Spherix Incorporated as a Phase 3 study of a new drug called D-tagatose as a simple therapy for type 2 diabetes that has been shown to significantly reduce HbA1c levels in 10 months with treatment that was completed at the end of September in 2010 (Washington Business Journal). The full journal of results is yet to be released but the company is advancing plans for production pending FDA approval to bring a simple complex that could bring hope for the millions affected by type 2 diabetes.

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