Tuesday, March 27, 2012

American Diabetes Alert Day: March 27, 2012


What is American Diabetes Association Alert Day?
Today is the American Diabetes Association Alert Day, which is held every year on the fourth Tuesday in March (1). The purpose of this Diabetes Alert Day is to call special attention to diabetes and to encourage everyone to find out if they are at risk.

While diabetes is often a hereditary condition, it is still possible to develop diabetes even if you have no known history of it in your family. In addition, type 2 diabetes is often preventable through regular medical checkups and a healthy lifestyle.

Why is Alert Day important? 
Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States, and a  quarter of them—7 million—do not even know they have it. An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, diagnosis often comes 7 to 10 years after the onset of the disease, after disabling and even deadly complications have had time to develop. Therefore, early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications.

The Diabetes Risk Assessment Quiz
To find out if you are at risk for diabetes, you can do so by taking the Diabetes Risk Assessment and then read more below about what you can do to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. Click here to take the diabetes risk test.

This test asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history, and other potential risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Preventative tips are provided for everyone who takes the test, including encouraging those at high risk to talk with their health care provider.

I took the test and it was quick and painless. The results of my test? I'm at medium risk for type 2 diabetes. Although I'm not overweight, I'm almost 60 years old (remember that type 2 diabetes increases with age), and my mother has had type 2 diabetes (she's lost weight so she's not on insulin now and is doing well).

Why is the Diabetes Alert Day important for diabetic cats and dogs? 
Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes more than 1 in every 200 cats. Like the situation in human diabetic patients, Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in cats. Although dogs commonly develop diabetes, the form of diabetes they develop is not type 2 and more closely resembles type 1 diabetes (2).

Many of the risk factors for development of Type 2 diabetes in domestic cats are similar to man and include advancing age, obesity, and physical inactivity (3-7). Cats are obligate carnivores and have no need for dietary carbohydrates (2).  Feeding cats diets high in carbohydrate can increase blood glucose and insulin levels and may predispose cats to obesity and diabetes. Feeding low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets may help prevent diabetes for cats at risk.

The incidence of feline diabetes has progressively increased over the past few decades (6,7). In one study looking at records of cats with diabetes mellitus from 1970 through 1999 (7), prevalence increased significantly from only 8 cases per 10,000 in 1970 to 124 per 10,000 in 1999!

The exact cause of this increase in feline diabetes in not known but may relate to higher obesity rates and more cats being fed high-carbohydrate diets (6,7). Male cats appear to be at greater risk, representing approximately 60-70% of all diabetics (2-7). Increasing age also correlates with increasing risk of diabetes, with two-thirds of cats diagnosed when older than 10 years (3,5-7).

Feline diabetes is definitely treatable and need not shorten the cat's life span or life quality. Management of the diabetic cat should be a multipronged approach incorporating insulin, dietary therapy (to reduce carbohydrate load and induce weight loss if the cat is overweight), and management of any infection or concurrent condition.  With early intervention and good glycemic control, diabetic remission was achieved in over 75% of cats (2).

  1. American Diabetes Association Website: American Diabetes Alert Day, 2012   
  2. Rand JS, Fleeman LM, Farrow HA, et al. Canine and feline diabetes mellitus: nature or nurture? Journal of Nutrition 2004;134(8 Suppl):2072S-2080S. 
  3. Baral RM, Rand JS, Catt MJ, et al. Prevalence of feline diabetes mellitus in a feline private practice. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2003;17:433.
  4. Lederer R, Rand JS, Jonsson NN, et al. Frequency of feline diabetes mellitus and breed predisposition in domestic cats in Australia. Veterinary Journal 2009;179:254-258. 
  5.  Panciera D, Thomas C, Eicker S, et al: Epizootiologic patterns of diabetes mellitus in cats: 333 cases (1980-1986). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 1990;197:1504-1508. 
  6. McCann TM, Simpson KE, Shaw DJ, et al. Feline diabetes mellitus in the UK: the prevalence within an insured cat population and a questionnaire-based putative risk factor analysis. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 2007;9:289-99. 
  7. Prahl A, Guptill L, Glickman NW, et al. Time trends and risk factors for diabetes mellitus in cats presented to veterinary teaching hospitals. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery  2007;9:351-358. 

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