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Health and Family Services Cabinet
DPH Supports the American Diabetes Alert

Press Release Date:  Monday, March 27, 2006  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Crace, (502) 564-6786  


March 28 Serves as ‘Call to Action’ for Americans

The Kentucky Department for Public Health wants residents of the commonwealth to recognize the American Diabetes Alert, which is set aside the fourth Tuesday in March to raise awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and help people identify their risk for developing diabetes.

DPH is urging Kentuckians to learn more about diabetes, how it affects the body and if they are at risk for developing the disease.   

 Often brought on by poor lifestyle habits, diabetes has become a health crisis. Millions are negatively affected by this disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 20.8 million people in the United States have diabetes. Of those, only 14.6 million have been diagnosed.

“In Kentucky, an estimated 376,000 people have diabetes and an estimated 611,000 Kentuckians 40 to 74 have pre-diabetes and are at very high risk for developing the disease,” said DPH Commissioner William D. Hacker M.D. “We must make better choices about the things we eat and the amount of physical activity we’re getting and start curbing rates of this disease.”

Diabetes is a condition that results when the body’s blood glucose (commonly referred to as sugar) is too high. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body may not produce enough insulin or it doesn’t effectively use the insulin it has, or both occur at the same time. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into the cells, the cells may feel starved for energy and the elevated blood glucose may damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart. 

Many people can have diabetes for years and not know it because they may not have any symptoms.  Signs of diabetes include thirst, frequent urination, feeling very hungry or tired, unintentional weight loss, having sores that heal slowly, dry and itchy skin, blurred vision, and a tingling or loss of feeling in the feet. A blood test to check your glucose levels will show if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Pre-diabetes is present when blood sugar levels are elevated, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

“The good news is you can do things now to lower your risk for diabetes such as keeping your weight in control; eating low fat meals that include fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods; and staying physically active most days of the week,” said Linda Leber, education coordinator for the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. “If you think you may be at risk, talk to your health care provider about being tested for diabetes.”

The disease affects all races and ethnic groups, but African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are more commonly affected. Other risk factors include having high blood pressure; having a family history of the disease; having diabetes during pregnancy; or having a baby that weighs more than nine pounds at birth.

The American Diabetes Association offers a Diabetes Risk Test to help you find out if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. The risk test and other diabetes information can be found on their Web site at www.diabetes.org or call (800) DIABETES.

For more diabetes-related information, call the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and
Control Program at (502) 564-7996 or visit their Web site at http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ach/diabetes or the National Diabetes Education Program site at www.ndep.nih.gov.

For more information, contact Linda Leber at the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program at (502) 564-7996.       

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Last Updated 3/27/2006