NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “Discussing Diabetes: The Essential Conversation That Could Change the Health of the Nation”, which examines the idea of technology-enabled between-visit engagement to help patients with the prevention and management of diabetes. Download it HERE!
One of the biggest challenges of diabetes is that for many patients it is the first step of a painful journey into poor overall health. As medical professionals are all too aware, people with diabetes tend to have a higher incidence of stroke, high blood pressure and other chronic or potentially life-threatening conditions.
Discussing Diabetes found that many patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes also suffer from these conditions at a much higher rate than the population in general. For example:
- 59 percent of diabetes patients also suffer with hypertension compared to 27 percent of the general population.
- 20 percent have suffered heart disease, compared to seven percent of the general population.
- 14 percent have suffered chronic respiratory diseases, compared to only nine percent of the general population.
- 17 percent have also had osteoarthritis, compared to 11 percent of people without diabetes.
- 17 percent have also been diagnosed with cancer, compared to the average of seven percent across the survey.
In addition, 20 percent of diabetes patients have also suffered gallstones or gallbladder disease, 13 percent had gout, and seven percent had suffered a stroke — in each case more than double the national average.
Diabetes and Medical Services
This picture of multiple chronic conditions inevitably has an impact on the provision of medical services.
Between 2009 and 2012, 71 percent of adults with diabetes had high blood pressure or used prescription medications to lower high blood pressure. In the same period, 65 percent had blood cholesterol greater than or equal to 100 mg/dl or used cholesterol-lowering medications.
In 2011, approximately 282,000 emergency room visits by adults had hypoglycemia as the first-listed diagnosis and diabetes as another diagnosis.
In 2010, hospitalization rates for heart attacks were 1.8 times higher among adults with diagnosed diabetes than among adults without the disease. Hospitalization rates for stroke were also 1.5 times higher among adults with diagnosed diabetes.
The diabetes epidemic means that medical professionals have to prescribe more pharmaceuticals, patients have to manage complex drug regimens, and hospitals and emergency rooms have to deal with multiple interacting conditions on admitted patients. Clearly, managing and treating diabetes is far from straightforward for everyone concerned.