The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is marking American Diabetes Month this November to draw attention to a condition that takes a major toll on our state, both health-wise and financially.
Diabetes affects an estimated 13.6% of Louisiana residents, much higher than the the national average of 10.6%. For reference, the number of people in Louisiana who have diabetes could fill the Superdome 13 times.
Also, about 1 in 3 Louisiana residents are pre-diabetic, with levels of blood sugar that are higher than normal, according to 2017 estimates by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Diabetes is largely a preventable condition. That is why LDH's Well-Ahead program, which is responsible for chronic disease management and prevention and improving healthcare access, is urging Louisianans aged 35 to 70 years found to be overweight or obese to get screened for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes this month. Well-Ahead can help connect you with screening and prevention resources here.
As with many chronic conditions, the burden of diabetes is not shared equally across racial lines. Black adults are at least 45% more likely to have diabetes compared to all other races and ethnicities in Louisiana. Adults in rural Louisiana are also 16% more likely to have diabetes when compared to adults in urban areas.
Complications of diabetes can be serious, including heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness, and in extreme cases, death.
According to the ADA, in Louisiana, diagnosed diabetes treatments cost an estimated $5.7 billion each year.
Through the FY22 LDH business plan, the Department has taken innovative approaches to help thousands of Louisiana residents better control their diabetes, or even avoid type 2 diabetes altogether.
Louisiana's Medicaid program exceeded the FY22 business plan goal of helping 2,300 more Medicaid members control their diabetes over calendar year 2021. That means thousands of Louisiana residents have greater opportunities to lead longer, more abundant and healthier lives.
Over the past year, Well-Ahead has led a creative strategy to reach more Louisianans with important information and screenings, and connect them with necessary care for both diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Well-Ahead program is partnering with six community sites throughout Louisiana to offer programs to assist residents with diabetes prevention and connect those at risk with vital resources.
Well-Ahead connects our partnering sites, which include community hubs like barber shops and gyms, with the training and resources needed to help community members receive diabetes prevention education.
The diabetes prevention sites offer CDC-recognized programs created through the National Diabetes Prevention Program to assist residents with prediabetic diagnoses to adopt achievable realistic lifestyle changes to avoid type 2 diabetes.
This community-based approach is key in reaching residents who may not regularly visit a doctor or enjoy reliable access to preventative care.
LDH is building on that foundation through our FY23 Business Plan. This year, Well-Ahead will work with our established sites and recruit additional community partners to help increase the number of residents enrolled in Diabetes Prevention Programs.
To find out more about Well-Ahead's diabetes programming, go to WellAheadLA.com