Diabetes self-care in the United States is slowly improving, with new research showing that the number of diabetic Americans who met all the recommended health targets for the disease rose between 1999 and 2010.
The report, published online April 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that the proportion of diabetic patients with poor blood glucose control decreased by 5.8%.
The number of people with diabetes who achieved their blood sugar goals improved by about 8%, while the proportion who hit their blood pressure and LDL (“bad) cholesterol targets rose by 11.7 and 20.8%, respectively. There was also a 2.8 to 3.7% decrease in the 10-year probability of coronary heart disease.
But despite these improvements, up to half of diabetics in the US still failed to meet recommended blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol targets during the first decade of the 21st century.
According to report author Dr. Mohammed K. Ali, of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventio, only 14.3% met the targets for all three diabetes care measures and for tobacco use during this period, while just 22.4% got their annual flu vaccines, foot checks and eye and dental examinations as recommended.
“The overarching theme is slow and steady improvement. Just a 1 percent improvement in hemoglobin A1C [a long-term measure of blood sugar levels] in 19 million people with diabetes is tremendous,” said Dr. Ali, a consultant in the CDC’s division of diabetes translation in Atlanta.
“We have a good report card, but we have a long way to go in certain aspects, like blood pressure control and tobacco use,” he added.
The report was based on data from two nationally representative studies involving more than 100,000 adults diagnosed with diabetes.

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