With 90 percent of people who have pre-diabetes unaware that they even have the condition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association are calling on doctors to ramp up screening efforts and raise awareness about the risk factors for developing a full onset of the disease.
Patients with pre-diabetes have higher blood sugar levels than normal, but are not yet at the levels associated with diabetes. However, without taking preventative steps, these individuals are at a much greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease. Around 86 million adults have pre-diabetes, according to the AMA, who labeled diabetes as “one of the nation’s most debilitating chronic diseases.”
“Our health care system cannot sustain the number of people with diabetes,” said Ann Albright, director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, speaking in a press call Thursday. “Screening and referring those at risk is critical. When people know, they are more likely to take action.”
The AMA and CDC are expanding their ongoing efforts to combat diabetes by focusing on awareness and early prevention through enlisting greater help from physicians. The AMA, which is the nation’s largest association of physicians, said it would use its wide-reaching connections to spread the message to stakeholders.
Their joint initiative, which will focus on screening, testing and acting on a potential diagnosis of pre-diabetes, includes an interactive website and toolkit for both patients and doctors. A “screening” button allows individuals to take an at-home test to determine whether they may be at risk for having pre-diabetes, while a toolkit for health care professionals provides detailed information about testing and referrals.
The CDC and AMA said the goal of the initiative is not only to increase the number of people who are aware of their pre-diabetes, but to also encourage them to act on it by funneling them into existing diabetes prevention programs. The website contains a link to find nearby locations.
However, Albright acknowledged that the next critical step will be making sure more of the programs – which AMA said are 70 percent effective in delaying or preventing individuals over 60 from developing type 2 diabetes – are covered by health insurance.
“It’s critical for people to know whether they have pre-diabetes so they can take action,” Albright said. “So by increasing the number of people who know they have it, and the number who take advantage of a lifestyle-change program, we have a significant opportunity to reduce these cases.”