Diabetes is a serious disease, but its complications can be delayed or prevented with frequent monitoring, proper nutrition, exercise and medication. The following statistics provide an overview of the prevalence of diabetes and its complications in the United States. Information is derived from the American Diabetes Association, National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

How many people have diabetes?

  • An estimated 18.2 million Americans, about 3 percent of the US population, have diabetes. About 13 million Americans have been diagnosed; about 5.2 million remain undiagnosed.
  • Annually, 1.3 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed among people 20 years or older in the United States.
  • Type 2 diabetes may account for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Diabetes Risk Factors

  • Your chance of developing diabetes increases with age. An estimated 18.3 percent of the U.S. population over 60 years old has diabetes.
  • Prevalence by gender is roughly equal. About 8.7 percent of men and 8.7 percent of women aged 20 or older have diabetes.
Ethnic Heritage
  • Diabetes occurs more frequently in some populations, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Complications resulting from diabetes can be very serious, but can also be delayed or prevented.

Heart Disease and Stroke
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths.
  • People with diabetes are 2-4 times as likely to die from heart disease and strokes as people who don't have diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
  • Over 73 percent of adults with diabetes have high blood pressure (greater than or equal to 130/80) or use prescription medications for hypertension.
Eye Disease and Blindness
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20-74 years.
  • Diabetic retinopathy causes from 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year.
Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease, accounting for about 44 percent of new cases.
Nerve Damage
  • About 60-70 percent of all people with diabetes show evidence of nerve system damage.
  • Over 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in the United States occur among people with diabetes.
Periodontal Disease
  • Periodontal (gum) disease is more common among people with diabetes. Almost 30 percent of people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease.
Complications of Pregnancy
  • Poorly controlled diabetes before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause major birth defects in 5-10 percent of pregnancies and spontaneous abortions in 15-20 percent of pregnancies.
  • Poorly controlled diabetes during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can result in excessively large babies, which poses a risk to the mother and the child.
Other Complications
  • Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to life-threatening events, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar (nonketotic) coma.
  • People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses and often have a worse prognosis than people without diabetes once they have acquired an illness. For example, people with diabetes are more likely to die from pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.
Prevention of Diabetes Complications
  • Monitoring blood glucose levels regularly and taking prescribed medications can reduce the chances of developing long-term complications.
  • Treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol can reduce the chances of developing heart disease.
  • Preventing obesity can reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. The best way to keep lean is to eat healthier and be more physically active.
  • Engaging in exercise is an effective means to lose weight and minimize the risk of developing insulin resistance. Before starting any exercise program, talk to your healthcare professional.