National Diabetes Month and the Importance of Prevention

November is National Diabetes Month, a time to bring awareness to a disease that affects millions of Americans and is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. One in 10 Americans have diabetes – more than 30 million people – and another 84 million adults are at a high risk of developing the disease. Diabetes is also one of the leading cost drivers for WellDyneRx clients, accounting for almost 12% of total drug expenditures, and it is the most expensive therapeutic class in terms of traditional drug spend.

Many people with diabetes and pre-diabetes also suffer from heart disease, strokes, eye problems, and foot ailments, all of which can be attributed to their primary diabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to reach a diabetic diagnosis. Many of the same factors that raise a person’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes also put them at risk for developing pre-diabetes. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes can often be delayed and even prevented. It is important to delay diabetes, because the longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop additional health problems.

The American Diabetes Association developed an online risk-assessment tool to help identify risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. This quick online assessment is available at Major risk factors include age, gender, family history, wellness, blood pressure, and weight.

As people get older, the risk for type 2 diabetes increases, particularly for those 45 years of age and older. Women who have a history of gestational diabetes (i.e., diabetes while pregnant) have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Data shows that there is a link between type 2 diabetes and family history, although it appears to include genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that family members may share. High blood pressure not only increases the risk of developing diabetes, but it also increases the risk of developing other diseases or experiencing adverse events, such as a heart attack or stroke. Being at a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) and exercising regularly decreases a patient’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Most people are aware of the basic steps needed to prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as making time for regular physical activity, eating right, and keeping up with routine medical care. Oftentimes, however, patients and providers overlook the importance of vaccinations for the diabetic population. Diabetes makes it harder for people’s immune system to fight infections, and diabetics are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from some vaccine-preventable diseases. In addition, when diabetics are sick, it is harder for them to control their blood sugar.

Diabetics should speak with their healthcare provider about obtaining the following vaccines:

  • Influenza (Flu Shot): People with diabetes are at a high risk of developing serious flu complications, such as pneumonia (lung infection), bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections, which can result in hospitalizations and even death.
  • Tdap: This vaccine protects against three different types of bacteria: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Zoster: This vaccine helps prevent shingles, a painful rash caused by the same virus that causes the chicken pox. Some people who get shingles develop a painful complication, post-herpetic neuralgia (i.e., nerve pain), that can last for months and even years.
  • Pneumococcal: This vaccine helps prevent infection caused by pneumococcal bacteria. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of death from this type of bacterial infection through pneumonia (lung infection), bacteremia (blood infection), and meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
  • Hepatitis B: Diabetics are at higher risk of acquiring a hepatitis B virus infection. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to serious health issues, such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer. Hepatitis B can spread through sharing of blood sugar meters, finger stick devices, or other diabetes care equipment, such as insulin pens.

The CDC provides a patient-friendly vaccine guide that diabetics can print out and take with them to their next doctor’s appointment:

To help our clients provide quality care while containing costs, WellDyneRx offers a comprehensive diabetes management program, called WellManaged – Diabetes, which gives patients the tools they need to take control of their disease and encourages providers to prescribe evidence-based medications.

For more information about the WellManaged — Diabetes program, please contact your Account Executive.

2018 Quarter Four WellInformed Table Contents