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Many Americans Struggling to Control Diabetes: Analysis

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A U.S. agency analysis finds that only slightly more than half of the 18 million Americans with diabetes had their blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure under optimum control in 2006.

The summary, issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), found that about 55 percent of American adults with diabetes had their blood sugar and total cholesterol levels under control, while about 59 percent had their blood pressure under control. Improper management of these factors can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke, the agency noted.

The report also found that:

* Only 43 percent of blacks and 38 percent of Mexican-Americans with diabetes had their blood sugar levels under control, compared with 61 percent of non-Hispanic whites with diabetes.
* The percentage of diabetics who had their blood pressure under control did improve between 2002 to 2006 -- from 39 percent to 58 percent for blacks and from 49 percent to 67 percent for Mexican-Americans. There were also no significant differences in blood pressure control among blacks, Mexican-Americans, and non-Hispanic whites with diabetes.

The AHRQ study also said that as many as 6 million Americans may have diabetes but don't know it. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, with $116 billion spent on medical care for the disease, according to AHRQ's recently released 2008 National Healthcare Disparities Report.

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