Study: Undiagnosed diabetes runs rampant

Monday, December 31, 2001

NEW YORK - Up to one third of cases of diabetes in elderly Americans may go undiagnosed, researchers report.

A recent study found that in a group of more than 3,000 individuals aged 70 to 79, 8% had undiagnosed diabetes and nearly 16% had diabetes that had been diagnosed. Undiagnosed cases were more likely among men and overweight individuals, as well as those with high blood pressure.

The higher risk of undiagnosed diabetes found in people with risk factors for heart disease "confirms the importance of monitoring glucose levels in people with cardiovascular risk factors," explain Dr. Lonneke V. Franse from the University of Tennessee in Memphis and colleagues.

The findings, published in the December issue of Diabetes Care, suggest that elderly men and all elderly individuals who have high blood pressure and are overweight are appropriate targets for diabetes screening.

The study also found that rates of undiagnosed diabetes were equal among elderly black and white men (about 9%) but that black men had higher rates of diagnosed diabetes-about 23% compared with 14%. Similarly, the rate of diagnosed diabetes was higher among black women than white women, at nearly 22% compared with about 8%. HME