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Diabetes costs more, on average about 2.3 times more for their medical care than for people without diabetes. The 2007 per capita cost for diabetes health care was $11,744 per year, 57% of which was directly attributed to diabetes. These numbers translate to 1 in every 5 health care dollars being spent on someone with diabetes, and 1 in every 10 health care dollars being spent attributable to diabetes.

The costs of diagnosed diabetes was estimated at $174 billion in 2007, or $116 billion in direct medical costs and $58 billion in indirect medical costs for disability, work lost, and premature mortality. In 2007, 15 million work days were lost, 120 million workdays were with reduced performance, and 6 million lost productivity days were seen for those not in the workforce. Approximately 107 million work days were lost to unemployment disability, and there were 445,000 cases that were attributed to diabetes.

It is also estimated that undiagnosed diabetes cost $18 billion, $25 billion for pre-diabetes, and $623 million for gestational diabetes. This brings the total financial impact specific of the disease to about $217 billion in 2007!

An impaired glucose tolerance test result and fasting glucose that is higher than normal, but not high enough to diagnose diabetes, is a condition called pre-diabetes. There is an increased health risk for people with pre-diabetes for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, the progression to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable. Prevention is based on efforts in people who are obese to reduce their weight and increase their physical activity. In one study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, lifestyle changes appeared to reduce the progression to diabetes for nearly 60% of participants over a three year period, and over 70% for 60 years and older adults. Lifestyle changes are more cost effective than medications.

The treatments for diabetes center on controlling blood sugar levels and reducing the effects of some complications such as high blood pressure and high blood lipids. According to the CDC, each percentage point drop in the measure of hemoglobin A1c reduces the risk of kidney disease and neuropathy by up to 40%. Control of blood lipids can decrease cardiovascular complications from 20% to 50%. Control of blood pressure can reduce complications related to vascular problems between 33-50%. Each 10mm (millimeter or Hg) mercury drop in blood pressure can reduce the risk for any complication by about 12%.

Self management training is an important part of reducing the impact of diabetes. These care skills include foot care, self monitoring of blood glucose, and adherence to diabetes care and treatment recommendations.

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