FirstHealth Supports National Effort to Raise Awareness of Prediabetes

The findings of FirstHealth of the Carolinas coincide with those of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the growing number of Americans with prediabetes.

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are high, but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes.

According to the CDC report, 84 million American adults (more than one in three) have prediabetes, which increases risks to their long-term health, including type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Nearly 90 percent of these people do not know that they have the condition.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 2,624,000 people in North Carolina, or 36.1 percent of the state’s adult population, have prediabetes.

In three of the four counties that make up FirstHealth’s primary coverage area, the percentage of people who have been diagnosed as borderline or prediabetic is higher than the national percentage with numbers ranging from 6.8 percent in Richmond County to 7.0 percent in Montgomery County and 7.3 percent in Hoke County. Only in Moore County, at 4.8 percent, is the percentage lower than the national rate of 5.1 percent.

This information, from the most recent FirstHealth Community Health Needs Assessment, also indicates that three segments of the FirstHealth service area population are more likely to be diagnosed as borderline or prediabetic – women, adults age 40 to 64 (compared with those ages 18 to 39) and blacks – with people reporting a “very low” income almost twice as likely to be prediabetic as those of middle to high income.

In an effort to build on a successful campaign that helped hundreds of thousands of American learn their risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association and the CDC, along with the Ad Council, plan to release a series of new public service announcements focusing on prediabetes. The campaign will also encourage people to take a short online test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org to learn their risk and then to speak with their doctor to confirm their diagnosis.

The website features lifestyle tips and connects visitors to the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program.

“Prediabetes can often be reversed through weight loss, diet changes and increased physical activity,” says Michelle Cole, a FirstHealth diabetes educator, “but diagnosis is critical since research shows that people are much more likely to make the necessary lifestyle changes needed to reduce their risk once they are aware of their condition.”

In addition to providing one-on-one diabetes education classes, FirstHealth supports the national effort to increase prediabetes awareness by offering two programs designed to decrease the number of prediabetes cases in its service area. Both are funded by recent grants.

  • A two-year grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation provided $260,000 to FirstHealth Community Health Services for prediabetes projects that include glucose screenings in non-traditional locations in Richmond and Montgomery counties. Individuals with a prediabetes glucose result are referred to a CDC evidence-based prediabetes education program that concentrates on increasing physical activity and weight loss.
  • FirstHealth Community Health Services has also partnered with Region 6 Health Departments in a Minority Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) funded by $230,000 from the North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. In this program, individuals in Hoke, Montgomery, Richmond, Moore, Harnett and Scotland counties are screened for prediabetes and those with abnormal results are referred to diabetes education programs or to Prevent T2 classes (a CDC curriculum for prediabetes education).

In addition, in January of next year, Medicare will begin covering the prediabetes education classes provided by FirstHealth’s Diabetes Self-Management Program.

For more information on diabetes and programs offered by FirstHealth of the Carolinas, visit www.firsthealth.org/diabetes.  For information on the prediabetes classes, visit  www.firsthealth.org/prediabetes.