Every hour, 112 Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. Today, 17 million Americans are living with the disease.
Diabetes Specialist Richard Jackson, M.D., of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, tells Ivanhoe, "We also think that there's maybe an equal or almost that large a number of people who have but don't know they have it yet."
Diabetes is one disease with many complications.
He says there are five tests every person with diabetes should have at least once a year.
Test one: Hemoglobin A1C, which reflects a patient's average blood sugar level for the previous three months.
Dr. Jackson says, "All the bench research that we do tells us that's the test that most accurately tells you if you are going to have a higher or lower risk of future problems." He says, however, many patients have never heard of the test.
Test three: Cholesterol.
LDL, or bad, cholesterol, should be under 100. HDL should be above 45. Triglycerides should be under 200.
Test four: Microalbumin, which detects early signs of kidney disease.
Test five is an eye exam. Annual exams detect damage early and allow for vision-saving treatment.
Dr. Jackson says, "If diabetes patients know where they stand in each of those five areas, then they'll know, 'Is it working out, or gee, I'm not doing so well.'"
Dr. Jackson warns diabetes patients, "You don't want to say, 'Gee, no one told me I should do this.'"
Diabetic Louis Newman tells Ivanhoe, "If you don't take care of yourself, nobody is going to do it for you." "It's not the end of the world. It's manageable," says diabetic Lillie Davis.
And diabetic Iris Larssen says, "Work with your doctor. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you work together." Good advice from patients who have been there.