Good News About Diabetes Control

More people with diabetes are meeting the recommended targets for three key areas of diabetes control than in previous decades, according to recent research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 26 million people in the United States have diabetes.


People whose A1C (a measure of blood glucose control over the previous 2–3 months), blood pressure, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels fall outside the suggested levels are more likely to develop diabetes complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Goals for these measures must be individualized based on factors such as a person’s age, type of diabetes, and complications from diabetes. However, for many people with the condition, an A1C goal below 7% is recommended, along with a blood pressure goal of less than 130/80 and an LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dl.

To determine how many people are meeting the recommended targets, researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 1988–1994 and 1999–2010. (NHANES is a program of studies that combines interviews and physical examinations to determine the health and nutritional status of people in the United States.) The investigators found that 53% of Americans with diabetes met A1C goals, 51% met blood pressure goals, and 56% met cholesterol goals in the 1999–2010 survey, compared to 43%, 33%, and 10% respectively in the earlier survey. The number of participants able to meet or exceed all three of the measures demonstrating good diabetes management rose from about 2% in 1988–1994 to about 19% in in 2007–2010.

The researchers suspect that improvements in cholesterol levels were largely due to the increase in use of the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins: In 1988–1994, only 4% of people with diabetes were taking these medicines, but that number rose to 51% from 2007—2010.

“Research has shown that good diabetes control early in the course of disease has long-lasting benefits reducing the risk of complications. For people with long life expectancy after diagnosis of diabetes, it’s especially important to focus on meeting diabetes management goals as early as possible, because with that longer life comes a greater chance of developing complications if they do not control their diabetes,” noted Judith Fradkin, MD, director of the NIDDK Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases.

In spite of the improvements, the researchers note that the results show a need for better diabetes control. In particular, young adults and Mexican Americans were below average in meeting A1C and cholesterol goals and non-Hispanic blacks were less likely to meet blood pressure and cholesterol goals.

According to first author Sarah Stark Casagrande, PhD, “While diabetes control has improved in these populations, some disparities remain, demonstrating the need for improved management of the disease to prevent its devastating complications.”

For more information, read the article “Big Improvement in Diabetes Control Over Past Decades,” or see the study in the journal Diabetes Care. And to learn more about controlling A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol, see the following articles:

H-B-A-1-C (What It Is and Why It Matters)
The Pressure Is On: Hypertension and Diabetes
Lifestyle Habits for Lipid Management

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  • jim snell

    Bless my boots. Maybe proper and regular testing on the diabetes front really does lead to better results and the dead warhorses horses of the medical team promoting massively reduced strip testing and whacking the budget for diabetes testing supplies in Medicare/Medicaid by 72 % can get lost.

    As a 30 year plus type 2 after 26 years got his mess under control and that required extensive testing to assist my Doctor with the data that anabled him to work my case more proactively.

    As far as I am concerned, anybody promoting these retard policies and are part of the medical community should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Bob Fenton

    This is a poor excuse for claiming improvement. With the technology and the internet explosion since 2000, only an increase from 2 to 19 percent is not much of an increase and should be taken as a warning about the lack of education and improvement in our healthcare system and nothing to brag about.

    This is also reflective on the poor habits of individuals and the fact that we have to rely on so many medications (myself included) to improve our health. Until this country gets back to the basics of good health, anything less that 60% is just not much of an improvement.

  • Airborne Mom

    Sometimes no matter what you do you cannot stop the progressive nature of this disease and the additional ones that come along. I have always been very active and had good health but have been slowing down over the last five years due to additional issues and surgeries. Most people do not have just “diabetes” which now is controlled with glucophage and I have had to add insulin. My medical mix includes high blood pressure, cholesterol, fibromyalgia, asthma, severe degenerative ostearthritis (two total knee replacements and one total hip replacement so far) The degenerative arthritis is also in my neck (probably my whole spine) and has progressed from C3 & C4 and now includes C2 which causes alot of pain, debilitating headaches and the inability to move my head in different directions. I have had the nerves in my neck burned four times and the last burn did not work so now they have to burn them from the back of my neck instead of the sides. So from where I am any improvement in numbers for anyone is something to cheer about. It is difficult to remain positive and keep moving forward but I have good health insurance and will work as long as I am able. Family history and genes play a big role in what we have to look forward to as we age. I keep telling my son to stay active and eat right(which he does) so that he can put off what will eventually catch up to him. I hope it will be at 70 and not at 49 as has to me. I hope you never have to deal with complications and additional medical issues.

  • Pam Schmidt

    This is very interesting information about statins since I recently read that there’s a link between the onset of diabetes in people who start taking statin drugs. The question is, does taking statin drugs put people at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes even tho statins lower the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes?

  • Roger Vanderschie

    Is there an increased risk of getting pancreatic cancer by taking Januvia

  • J. Friedman

    Interesting article.
    Can you tell me if there has been any progress on the Metformin patch. I have suffered with intestinal strife for a number of years from the tablets. This would be a real improvement.

  • Mary G

    Oh, no…not again…I am sick to death about hearing about the need for statin drugs for just about everyone, as if they were a “cure”, regardless of the awful side effects they can cause. This is an improvement??? We need to stop looking for “pill” solutions to our problems.

    I agree with Bob that better education and lifestyle changes and getting back to the basics are in order to improve diabetics lives and health outcomes. We need to have our doctors encourage these changes instead of pushing more pills…

    But, we need to educate the doctors first–to overcome what patients have been told all along, that we NEED pills to survive and thrive–or these necessary changes may not happen anytime soon.

    Pill use should be targeted to those who really need the help, not automatically given because you are “diabetic”.

    Forums such as this helps to spread the word…

  • guny

    The european guidelines for healthcare are far more superior. The US has set unrealistic goals that force people to be on meds. does anyone remember when diabetics were to have their overall cholesterol under 160? And A1C’s where to be less than 5.0? These are unrealistic especially if the human body naturally produces the cholesterol it needs. If the cholesterol is lowered to much, then there is nothing to protect the heart…oh but wait says the doctor….you wont get heart disease! Idiots…

  • Mary G

    About the Januvia question…yes it can cause pancreatitis and can lead to pancreatic cancer. I was on that drug for two years and I started receiving information handouts from my pharmacy regarding this very question when I picked up my prescription refills. I stopped taking it when I developed unexplained stomach pains which went away within a week of stopping it. Please talk to your pharmacist for current information as your doctor may not be as well informed. Take that information and share it with your doctor to determine your course of action…be safe!

    Statin drugs can make you hyperglycemic which may lead the doctor to prescibe more drugs to contol your glucose levels. Kind of defeats the purpose for taking them as high sugar levels are known to injure the arteries which can then cause plaque build up that you were trying to prevent in the first place.. I suggest a low carb, low sugar diet and exercise and avoiding all sodas and drink plenty of water…but that’s just me…as you might guess, I am no fan of statin drugs!!!

  • Kathy

    Statin drugs are known to be one of the causes of neuropathy along with various other causes such as nutritional deficiencies, etc. I am just saying be careful and if you have bad side effects with any drug let your doctor know and stop the drug immediately unless you have to stop it over time but stop the drug. I won’t take any drug that gives me negative side effects or causes a bad reaction.

  • Mary G

    I agree with guny…you won’t get “heart disease” per se, because you’ll be dead due to heart failure!!!…a not so nice side effect of statin drugs…but every one of my doctors have tried to prescribe these “wonder” drugs to me despite my normal levels just because protocol calls for all diabetics to take them. If your total cholesterol is forced below 160 using these drugs, you can set yourself up for a “bleeding” type stroke that can prove to be fatal…but look on the bright side, you didn’t have heart disease!!!! Idiots…