The Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) is recognizing November as National Diabetes Awareness Month in an effort to improve education about how this disease adversely affects the community.
Since 2008, the annual death rate from diabetes in Marion County has exceeded that of Florida as a whole each year, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.
In 2020, DOH-Marion states that this gap reached the widest point in recent memory when diabetes-related deaths were 53% higher locally than all of Florida. Overall, diabetes kills 35 of every 100,000 Marion County residents.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is the nation’s seventh leading cause of death, and that may be underreported. The CDC estimates that 20% of American adults with diabetes are unaware that they have it.
In addition, the most recent data shows that nearly 17% of adults in Marion County were told at some point that they have diabetes, which is well above the statewide ratio of 11.7%.
Marion County also slightly outpaces the rest of Florida in terms of adults who have been told they are prediabetic, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough to be diagnosed as full-blown diabetes. Marion County’s most recent rate was 9.7%, compared to 9.1% for all of Florida.
DOH-Marion states that the first step to avoid or overcome diabetes is to know your status. When left untreated, diabetes can increase an individual’s risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease. If the disease is not treated, it can also cause blindness, increase the risk of contracting infections, lead to nerve damage, or instigate foot problems by damaging the body’s circulatory system.
According to DOH-Marion, the good news is that diabetes can be managed through a combination of diet, exercise, and medication, if necessary.
A report from the CDC states that approximately one-third of American adults are considered prediabetic, and more than 80% of them are unaware that they have the condition.
In the event that an exam reveals that you are prediabetic or diabetic, DOH-Marion states that you should consult with your healthcare provider about a course of action to keep it in check.
The Florida Department of Health in Marion County offers a Diabetes Empowerment and Education Program, a six-week series that helps participants better understand their condition and self-care. The next class is scheduled for early 2023, and more information on this program is available on DOH-Marion’s website.