What is the incidence of diabetes and prediabetes in Canada?
Currently, 11 million Canadians are living with prediabetes or diabetes: this means that almost one in three people in Canada are affected by these conditions.
Prediabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but haven’t reached the level required for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. If it is undiagnosed or untreated, it can eventually lead to diabetes. By 2029, it is estimated that 13.3 million Canadians will be living with prediabetes or diabetes.
If you have prediabetes, there are some risk factors that can be modified to help prevent the onset of diabetes. Learn more here.
If we look at just diabetes, approximately 3.6 million Canadians are living with the disease: that’s just over 9% of the total population.
Have diabetes rates changed over time?
Between 2000 and 2016, the proportion of Canadians living with diabetes has increased by an average of 3.3% per year, but the rate of new cases has remained stable. Deaths among those with diabetes have decreased.
What do we know about diabetes management in Canada?
A review of electronic medical records completed by the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network found significantly higher rates of primary care use and greater numbers of comorbidities in patients with diabetes. In terms of medication use, 85% of patients were taking metformin and 52% were taking two or more classes of medications.
Another study by this same group found that higher A1C values were associated with increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions. This number increased, relatively, as A1C values increased.
What is the current status of blood sugar control in Canadians with diabetes?
Maintaining A1C and blood sugar targets are the most important ways that people with diabetes can manage their condition. When blood sugar levels are consistently high (this is called hyperglycemia), many complications can occur. Common complications associated with hyperglycemia include heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease and nerve damage.
Current Canadian guidelines recommend that most people with diabetes should have an A1C of 7% or lower. A recent study of 3,000 Canadians with type 2 diabetes found that only 53% of them had an A1C of 7% or lower, and 6% had an A1C of 6% or lower.
What is the current status of cholesterol and blood pressure control in Canadians with diabetes?
In the same study noted above, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) ratio targets were achieved in 64% and 62% of study participants, respectively.
Blood pressure was also measured in this study. Overall, 54% of study participants met the Diabetes Canada blood pressure target of 130/80 mm Hg or lower.
What is the current status of recommended care in Canadians with diabetes?
In a report published by Diabetes Canada, many Canadians are not receiving the recommended care with respect to their diabetes management:
- 49% did not receive an annual foot exam
- 26% did not receive a urine protein test
- 17% did not receive an A1C test in the past 12 months
- 25% have never received a dilated eye exam
- 64% had not received a psychological assessment in the last year
Based on the above information, there is still room for improvement in terms of managing diabetes in Canada. Working with your diabetes healthcare team will help you to reach your diabetes management goals. In the meantime, keep educating yourself with reliable resources and check out the following tips that can help you on your journey.
6 tips to help you stay on top of your diabetes management
1. Eat healthy foods. Eating healthy meals is one of the most important things you can do to manage your diabetes. Your daily meal plan should be composed of 45% to 60% carbohydrate, 15% to 20% protein, and 20% to 35% fat. As well, you should eat three meals per day at regular times and space meals no more than six hours apart. This helps to control your blood sugar levels. Learn more about healthy eating and diabetes here.
2. Lose weight, if needed. Losing weight – and making sure it stays lost! – can also help you prevent or delay diabetes complications. Learn more here.
3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity is one of the best ways that you can stay healthy with diabetes. Exercise helps lower blood sugar levels, and it also helps you lose weight. If you have never exercised before, start with a little bit and work up gradually. Learn more about physical activity and diabetes here.
4. Take your medications as prescribed. Taking your medications exactly as prescribed by your healthcare team is very important. Whether you take pills, injectable medications, or insulin, your medication helps ensure that your blood sugar levels are at target. Delaying or skipping medication doses altogether can increase your risk of diabetes complications. In some cases, combinations of medications may be required to reach your diabetes management targets. Learn more about diabetes medications here.
5. Monitor your blood sugar levels. Blood glucose monitoring provides very useful information for diabetes management, including:
- How well you’re reaching your blood glucose targets
- How diet and exercise affect your blood glucose levels
- The effect of your diabetes medications on blood glucose levels
Your healthcare team can help you figure out how often you should test your blood sugar.
6. Get tests and lab work done at appropriate intervals. Medical tests and checkups that should be a part of your regular diabetes management include:
- Every 3 months (if not at target): A1C test
- Every 12 months: cholesterol and other blood fat tests; eye examination; kidney function test; and foot inspection
- Every healthcare visit: blood pressure
Learn more about the recommended monitoring tests here.
With healthy lifestyle, regular monitoring and use of appropriate medications, Canadians living with diabetes can reach their goals!