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What is diabetes?

If you have diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin, or it does not respond to insulin like it should. Insulin is a hormone that changes sugar, starches, and other food into the energy you need to live. If you do not have enough insulin, your blood sugar will be too high. A high blood sugar level is bad for your health.

If you have diabetes but do not treat it, you can have serious health problems. Nearly 29 million Americans have diabetes. Of these, 7 million do not even know they have it.

Another 79 million people in the United States have a condition called pre-diabetes. With pre-diabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be called diabetes. One of every 4 individuals age 65 and older has diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

There is good news. If you find and treat diabetes early, you can prevent or delay many of the health problems diabetes brings on. Eating right, being active, and taking new diabetes drugs can help.

What do I need to know about Medicare and diabetes?

If you have Medicare, you can get the care you need for diabetes. Medicare will pay for medical and certain other costs you might face with diabetes.

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