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Up to 14,000 North Dakotans Have Diabetes Unknowingly

PHOTO: With the rates of diabetes on the rise, those at risk in North Dakota and across the nation are being urged to get screened. CREDIT: Melissa
PHOTO: With the rates of diabetes on the rise, those at risk in North Dakota and across the nation are being urged to get screened. CREDIT: Melissa
March 26, 2013

BISMARCK, N.D. - The prevalence of diabetes in North Dakota has been trending upwards for years, and that also means many more people have the disease unknowingly.

According to Tera Miller, the director of the diabetes prevention and control program at the state Department of Health, about one out of every four people who have the disease has never been diagnosed with it.

"There's probably about 12,000 to 14,000 people in North Dakota who have diabetes but don't know it," she stated. "They either haven't been diagnosed by a physician, maybe they haven't been to the doctor. There are several reasons why they wouldn't know it."

Like other undiagnosed illnesses, people may not know because they have no symptoms, have never been screened for the particular illness, can't afford health care or lack access to practitioners.

In North Dakota, about 7.5 percent of the population, or 40,000 people, has diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type, and risk factors, Miller said, include family history, age, race and obesity.

"If you're overweight or obese, physically inactive, if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, those put you at a higher risk, so it would be good for you to go in and get checked just to see if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes," she urged.

For overweight people with pre-diabetes, losing even a small amount of weight and increasing physical activity can delay or prevent onset of the disease.

Those at risk across the nation are being urged today to get themselves screened.

More information is at bit.ly/11EjeuD.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND