Of the 56.9 million deaths worldwide in 2016, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15.2 million deaths in 2016. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed 3.0 million lives in 2016, while lung cancer (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.7 million deaths. Diabetes killed 1.6 million people in 2016, up from less than 1 million in 2000. Deaths due to dementias more than doubled between 2000 and 2016, making it the 5th leading cause of global deaths in 2016 compared to 14th in 2000.

Lower respiratory infections remained the most deadly communicable disease, causing 3.0 million deaths worldwide in 2016. The death rate from diarrhoeal diseases decreased by almost 1 million between 2000 and 2016, but still caused 1.4 million deaths in 2016. Similarly, the number of tuberculosis deaths decreased during the same period, but is still among the top 10 causes with a death toll of 1.3 million. HIV/AIDS is no longer among the world’s top 10 causes of death, having killed 1.0 million people in 2016 compared with 1.5 million in 2000.

Road injuries killed 1.4 million people in 2016, about three-quarters (74%) of whom were men and boys.

Leading causes of death by economy income group

More than half of all deaths in low-income countries in 2016 were caused by the so-called “Group I” conditions, which include communicable diseases, maternal causes, conditions arising during pregnancy and childbirth, and nutritional deficiencies. By contrast, less than 7% of deaths in high-income countries were due to such causes. Lower respiratory infections were among the leading causes of death across all income groups.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) caused 71% of deaths globally, ranging from 37% in low-income countries to 88% in high-income countries. All but one of the 10 leading causes of death in high-income countries were NCDs. In terms of absolute number of deaths, however, 78% of global NCD deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Injuries claimed 4.9 million lives in 2016. More than a quarter (29%) of these deaths were due to road traffic injuries. Low-income countries had the highest mortality rate due to road traffic injuries with 29.4 deaths per 100 000 population – the global rate was 18.8. Road traffic injuries were also among the leading 10 causes of death in low, lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries.

Source: Global Health Estimates 2016: Deaths by Cause, Age, Sex, by Country and by Region, 2000-2016. Geneva, World Health Organization; 2018.

Why do we need to know the reasons people die?

Measuring how many people die each year and why they died is one of the most important means – along with gauging how diseases and injuries are affecting people – for assessing the effectiveness of a country’s health system.

Cause-of-death statistics help health authorities determine the focus of their public health actions. A country in which deaths from heart disease and diabetes rise rapidly over a period of a few years, for example, has a strong interest in starting a vigorous programme to encourage lifestyles to help prevent these illnesses. Similarly, if a country recognizes that many children are dying of pneumonia, but only a small portion of the budget is dedicated to providing effective treatment, it can increase spending in this area.

High-income countries have systems in place for collecting information on causes of death. Many low- and middle-income countries do not have such systems, and the numbers of deaths from specific causes have to be estimated from incomplete data. Improvements in producing high quality cause-of-death data are crucial for improving health and reducing preventable deaths in these countries.



Posted By: Femi Kusa On , In: Health

Oyo State House of Assembly Speaker Michael Adeyemo, 47, slumped at home and died of a heart attack on April 27, a serious reminder to those of us he left behind to take better care of the health of our hearts if we are not already doing so. Like many people, I am guilty of missing regular yearly medical check-ups for important organs of the body. Maybe this is because I strive to eat healthily and believe that, once I do so, the body will fix itself.

Do not get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the admonition to man that he should take care of the healthy human body and not resort to fire alarm sick care a place of health care when the body goes haywire, as we say. For my heart, I regularly take such food supplements as Hawthorn Berries, Ubiquinol, Pomegranate, Omega-3 oil, Coconut oil and trust me, as many greens as I can lay my hands on every day. Those may include Lemongrass powder sparked on food, Pawpaw (Papaya) leaf powder, Spirulina powder, Wheatgrass powder, Marigold flower powder, Kale vegetable powder, Asparagus vegetable powder, and what have you! My last blood pressure test last week was 110/70.

I do simple do-it-yourself tests to confirm if anything is going on inside the heart, or if anything is wrong with it. This may not be 100 percent foolproof. But I believe it is better than doing nothing in – between the periods one has to visit a cardiologist or a general practitioner.

I walk, trying to emulate my good friend, Mr. Dotun Akintoye who tucks his Jeep aside to walk at least 10,000 steps every day.

I try to improve on his standard by dumping pedestrian or footbridges across expressways.

My target bridges are the ones which link Town Planning Way in Ilupeju area of Lagos with Anthony village on the Lagos/Ikorudu Road Expressway, the one which links Palmgrove with Shomolu, on the same expressway, and the that links Oshodi with Ilupeju. Some of these footbridges are so steep that some of its users not only stop on the way to rest but actually rain curses on those who designed and built them.

I make many friends on these bridges, as Mr. Sunday Danson will confirm.

Together, we sometimes take walks on them. He marvels at my guts. When I sight a young woman slouching or resting at a landing, I grate her hand and command: ”Let’s go, my friend, you are too young for all this.” Often, she would laugh and we would.

Later, I would tell her why she has not enough energy to go. Her heart is probably too weak to pump enough blood and oxygen to her muscles for the extra job she is giving them to do.

Then, I would advise them about dietary and other lifestyle changes they must make, and suggest they see their doctors.

The heart

The heart is a bunch of powerful muscles which pumps blood and oxygen around the body to feed all the cells, and through the circulating blood removes their poisonous and other waste products. The heart receives used blood from all parts of the body through blood vessels called veins. It pumps the used, deoxygenated blood to the lungs for oxygenation, receives oxygenated blood from the lungs, pumps it to all parts in the body, including the heart itself.

For these purposes, the normal heart is expected to beat or pump blood about 72 times a minutes or 432 times an hour or 10,368 times in one day or 3,784,320 times in one year or 264,902,400 times an average lifetime of, say, 70 years. That’s a whole lot of work.

How many submersible borehole water pumps can equal this? We maintain these machines and the fuel pumps of our motor vehicles aid electricity generators, but do not think of maintaining one of the hardest working organs of our bodies, the heart!

Heart disease

Because we do not dietarily and through lifestyle adaptations adequately maintain the hard-working heart, it begins to literally fall ill and speak to us in the forms of systems of its illnesses which add up to heart disease. One of these symptoms is the chest pain classified medically as angina pectoris.

This pain may spread to the inner left arm, the left shoulder blade bone in the back or down to the left arm, sometimes in electrical sparks. The pain often arises when the challenged person exerts himself or herself on a task which demands that the heart supply more blood to the muscles to do more work. Such exertion may be the climbing of stairway, the splitting of firewood with an axe or flight from danger. The pain is telling the challenged person that the heart, which is expected to play a crucial role in blood and oxygen supply for this activity is itself not receiving enough blood and oxygen to do the work. The picture emerging from this is that the arteries which circulate blood inside the heart are inflamed, blocked, narrowed and hardened, to the point that blood delivery to every cell of the heart may have become grossly diminished. A heart attack occurs when the disease progresses from diminished blood supply to stoppage of blood supply. It similar to what happens when petrol or diesel is exhausted in the electricity generator. It simply stops working.

In we have a graphic picture:

According to the University of Maryland, Medical Centre, some symptoms of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease ) can be very noticeable.

However, it is also possible to have this disease and experience no symptoms at all or only slight symptoms. Therefore not everyone who has CHD even knows it, especially those who are in the early stages. Pain varies a lot from person to person. The most common noticeable sign of CHD is having chest pain or discomfort which is caused when the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen. Other types of symptoms can include feeling a heaviness or like someone is squeezing your heart, pains or numbness in your breastbone (sternum), neck, arms, stomach and upper back, shortness of breath and fatigue with activity, general weakness”.

  The big debate

This debate is all about what causes the heart’s blood supply arteries, the coronary arteries, to become blocked. It began from about the 1900s onwards and appears unresolved to this day

Before, 1900 death from heart disease or heart failure in the United States was not as rampant as it is today, accounting now for about 45 percent of deaths every year. The death upsurge has been linked to dietary and other lifestyle changes in the last century.

There dietary and other lifestyle changes have been exported to Nigeria, which is why many Nigerians today suffer from these diseases and die of them as well.

In this medical debate, it has been suggested that CHDs occur when calcium and cholesterol and other fats settle on the inner lining of the coronary and other arteries, causing them to become inflamed, narrowing  the space for blood to flow through them and, also, hardening them to make them become like reinforced plastic hoses which cannot dilate as blood is flowing through. This hardening is called arteriosclerosis blockage of the vessels by cholesterol fatty plague called atheroma is atherosclerosis.

Another of the symptoms which these events throw up is hypertension. Many doctors try to resolve it with drugs which force the heart to slow down so it doesn’t kill itself. But this does not resolve atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis, and inflammation. In his BACK TO EDEN, Jethro Kloss, a natural medicines healer, tells of his experiences during his training in morbid anatomy in the mortuary. He said there was hardly a post-mortem surgery or autopsy carried out which did not reveal that almost all the critical organs were inflamed.

Inflammation, atherosclerosis, and atherosclerosis are believed by some researchers to be caused by the consumption of animal fats, fried foods, smoking, lack of exercise etc. That is why the doctor checks the cholesterol level and prescribes drugs to prune them down if they are on the high side. But these drugs have dangerous side effects on the heart because they block the body’s production of Co-Enzyme Q10 without which the heart cannot survive, and a deficiency of which has been linked to many heart diseases, including rising cholesterol levels.

Yet another group of researchers in the great debate say cholesterol is not the problem, but dietary deficiencies which do not make the liver metabolise the excess to bile salts, which the body uses for beneficial purposes.

In other columns related to this subject, I furthered discussion on this great debate to the conceptual crises of the 1980s, and of how researchers, such as Dr. Udo Erasmus unified the fats theory with new and accepted concepts published in his book, FATS THAT HEAL and FATS THAT KILL.

We are back to

”CHD is ultimately a result of inflammation from fatty material and other substances forming a build-up of plaque that accumulates within the walls of your arteries. Because these arteries have the crucial role of bringing blood and oxygen to your heart, reduced blood flow can slow down or stop your heartbeat, causing cardiac arrest. For this reasons, medical professionals use a combination of lifestyle changes, medicines and medical procedures to slow, stop or reverse the build-up of plaque. This can help lower the risk of blood clots forming and a heart attack taking place because it widens clogged arteries.

Heart diseases are sometimes called the quintessential diseases of civilisation because it was rare before 1900 and it still remains much less common inpre-industrialised populations.

By mid-century coronary heart disease was the nation’s biggest killer and today all forms of cardiovascular diseases, including conditions of the heart and blood vessels like angina, congestive heart failure, and stroke are still the leading causes of death in many western nations. Combined, all cardiovascular diseases kill more than one million Americans a year, men and women pretty much equally.

We know that inflammation and heart disease symptoms are tied to free radical damage (also called oxidative stress) and anti-oxidant levels in the body. When antioxidant levels are lower than those of free radicals due to poor nutrition and other lifestyle factors, oxidation will wreak havoc in the body, damaging cells, breaking down tissue, mutating DNA and overloading the immune system.

Environmental pollutants, alcohol, smoking, unhealthy fats and a lack of sleep can also generate high levels of free radicals”

Saving the heart

Foods and herbs abound in Mother Nature’s workshop to make the heart indefatigable for a whole lifetime. Only a few of them can be mentioned here. Jean Carper, an author of the New York Times best writers series, will be our chief tour guide. Her book, STOP AGING NOW, offers insights into the roles played in making the heart healthy by such foods and herbs as beta-carotene, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Magnesium, Fish oil, antioxidants, B-complex vitamins fruits and Vegetables, Garlic, Vitamin C, Red Wine etc. To these, I would like to add Lecithin, Hawthorn berries, Pomegranate and the proprietary blend CELLGEVITY, which is featured in under the headline Cellegevity, Senior Citizens and their peculiar challenges.

To be frank with you, most Nigerian popular diets may not sustain a healthy heart. They would need to be supplemented with missing food factors through food supplements. What is in bread, milk, sugar, refined tea or processed tea, fried egg took for breakfast? What is in yam or plantain flour taken as amala, if not a carbohydrate and oxidized food factors which are evident in the colour changes? What of Cassava grains from which eba is made? In Ghana, these grains are mixed with Moringa leaf powder to Proteinise, vitamise and mineralise the eba, which in pure form is pure carbohydrate. What is in polished rice? The soup is where the power and health of the meal should lie. Our soups nowadays are empty chaff, nutritionally speaking. I add the powders of green vegetables, such as Kale and Asparagus and Cilantro, to my meals to give them life!.

Politicians are most guilty of the nutritional bashing of the heart. They hardly sleep, congesting their blood with stress chemicals. Their hearts are filled with guile, altering the normal biochemistry of the heart, which has in the FOURTH CHAKRA region and responds negatively to thoughts of hate and evil plots. They have no time to exercise as well as well. They eat largely on the go.

We return to Jean Carper. She says:

”Evidences compelling, showing that beta carotene wards of cardiovascular disease, probably by keeping arteries from clogging.’’

A Harvard study showed that male physicians who took 50mg supplement of beta carotene every other day for six years had only half as many fatal heart attacks, strokes and heart diseases incidents in general as doctors taking a dummy pill.

In another Harvard study tracking 90,000 female nurses, those eating the most beta-carotene (more than 11,000 I.V. daily)had a 22 percent heart disease risk than women taking less than 3,800 I.V daily. The high-beta-carotene eaters’ risk of stroke was 37 percent lower.

In a large scale multi-centre European study, those who took in the least beta-carotene were at a 260 percent higher risk of a first – heart attack than those who ate the most beta-carotene”.

Rich food sources of beta-carotene in Nigeria include sweet potato, red pepper, carrot, dark leafy vegetables, such as spinach and Kale, melons, pears, mango, pawpaw (papaya) Kale, Lettuce, Cabbage, Pumpkin, Dandelion greens etc. Many people think first of carrots during any talk about beta-carotene.

They are right. It is a rich source of this carotenoid from which the body can produce Vitamin A for many uses. But there are far richer sources of beta-carotene than carrots in Nature. When spinach is juiced, it yields plenty of beta-carotene.

Not many people know that Spirulina is a richer source of beta-carotene than carrots. We are told in

”Spirulina offers 60 percent easy-to-digest vegetable protein without the fat and cholesterol of meat: essential vitamins and phytonutrients such as the antioxidant beta-carotene, the rare essential fatty acid GLA, Phospholipids, B-12 and beta-carotene content of Spirulina is higher than many other plants on our planet. Beta-carotene in Spirulina is 10 times more concentrated than in carrots. Spirulina compensates vitamins and mineral deficiencies promote strength and endurance and raises the concentration of oxygen in the blood. Besides, Spirulina normalises metabolism, helps with weight control. This unique plant accelerates burns and wounds healing.

Spirulina is a natural cleanser, promotes improvement of liver functions, toxins removal.

”Spirulina contains an unusually high amount of protein, between 55 percent and 75 percent by dry weight, depending upon the source. It is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids, though with reduced amounts of Methionine, Cysteine and Lysine when compared to the protein of meat, eggsand milk. It is, however, superior to typical plant protein Gama Linolenic Acid (GLA), and also provides Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), Linolenic Acid (LA), Stearidonic Acid (SDA), Elcosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA).

Spirulina contains vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. A test done on Australian grown Spirulina by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratory (AGAL) shows Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) levels of 659.1 ug/100 grm. A one-gram tablet could provide more than three times the recommended daily intake of B12.

Mineral health Spirulina is a rich source of Potassium, and also contains Calcium, Chromium, Copper Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc.

It should not be difficult for regular readers of this column to now understand why I always suggest that their greens (Spirulina & Co) be added to the diet. Nigerian diet is predominantly Carbohydrate. Fish and beef are expensive sources of protein. Proteins, minerals, and vitamins, not to mention trace elements and co-factors, are needed to maintain cells and organs of the body, which are derived from these substances and cannot function optimally without regular supplies of them in the diet.

Heart Attack: Lessons of Mike Adeyemo’s death



Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian 

Cold Feet, Many Culprits:

If your toes are always cold, one reason could be poor blood flow — a circulatory problem sometimes linked to smoking, high blood pressure, or heart disease. The nerve damage of uncontrolled diabetes can also make your feet feel cold. Other possible causes include hypothyroidism and anaemia. A doctor can look for any underlying problems — or let you know that you simply have cold feet.

Foot Pain

When feet ache after a long day, you might just curse your shoes. After all, eight out of 10 women say their shoes hurt. But the pain that’s not due to sky-high heels may come from a stress fracture, a small crack in a bone. One possible cause: Exercise that was too intense, particularly high-impact sports like basketball and distance running. Also, weakened bones due to osteoporosis increase the risk.

Red, White, and Blue Toes

Raynaud’s disease can cause toes to turn white, then bluish, and then redden again and return to their natural tone. The cause is a sudden narrowing of the arteries, called vasospasms. Stress or changes in temperature can trigger vasospasms, which usually don’t lead to other health concerns. Raynaud’s may also be related to rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s disease, or thyroid problems.

Heel Pain

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, inflammation where this long ligament attaches to the heel bone. The pain may be sharpest when you first wake up and put pressure on the foot. Arthritis, excessive exercise, and poorly fitting shoes also can cause heel pain, as can tendonitis. Less common causes include a bone spur on the bottom of the heel, a bone infection, tumor, or fracture.

Dragging Your Feet

Sometimes the first sign of a problem is a change in the way you walk — a wider gait or slight foot dragging. The cause may be the slow loss of normal sensation in your feet, brought on by peripheral nerve damage. About 30% of these cases are linked to diabetes. Nerve damage also can be due to infection, vitamin deficiency, and alcoholism. In many cases, no one knows what caused the nerve damage. Other possible causes for foot dragging include problems with the brain, spinal cord, or muscles.

Clubbed Toes

In clubbing, the shape of the toes (and often the fingers) changes. The nails are more rounded on top and curve downward. Lung disease is the most common underlying cause, but it also can be caused by heart disease, liver, and digestive disorders, or certain infections. Sometimes, clubbing runs in families without any underlying disease.

Swollen Feet

This is usually a temporary nuisance caused by standing too long or a long flight — especially if you are pregnant. In contrast, feet that stay swollen can be a sign of a serious medical condition. The cause may be poor circulation, a problem with the lymphatic system, or a blood clot. A kidney disorder or underactive thyroid can also cause swelling. If you have persistent swelling of your feet, see a physician.

Burning Feet

A burning sensation in the feet is common among diabetics with peripheral nerve damage. It can also be caused by a vitamin B deficiency, athlete’s foot, chronic kidney disease, poor circulation in the legs and feet (peripheral arterial disease), or hypothyroidism.

Sores That Don’t Heal

Foot sores that will not heal are a major warning sign for diabetes. Diabetes can impair sensation in the feet, circulation, and normal wound healing, so even a blister can become a troublesome wound. Those sores also are prone to infection. Diabetics should wash and dry their feet and check them for any wounds every day. Slow-healing of sores also can be caused by poor circulation from conditions such as peripheral artery disease.

Pain in the Big Toe

Gout is a notorious cause of sudden pain in the big toe joint, along with redness and swelling (seen here). Osteoarthritis is another culprit that causes pain and swelling. If the joint is rigid, it may be hallux rigidus, a complication of arthritis where a bone spur develops. Finally, turf toe is an ailment of athletes, particularly those who play on hard surfaces. It’s caused by an injury to ligaments surrounding the joint.

Pain in the Smaller Toes

If you feel like you’re walking on a marble, or if pain burns in the ball of your foot and radiates to the toes, you may have Morton’s neuroma, a thickening of tissue around a nerve, usually between the third and fourth toes. It is eight to 10 times more common in women than in men. It is caused by injury or too much pressure on the toes.

Itchy Feet

Itchy, scaly skin may be athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection. A reaction to chemicals or skin care products — called contact dermatitis — can cause itching, too, along with redness and dry patches. If the skin on itchy feet is thick and pimple-like, it may be psoriasis, an over-reaction of the immune system. Medicated creams can relieve the symptoms.

Claw Toe

This foot deformity can be caused by shoes that are tight and pinch your toes or by a disease that damages nerves, such as diabetes, alcoholism, or other neurological disorder. Your toes will be bent upward as they extend from the ball of the foot, then downward from the middle joint, resembling a claw. They may respond to stretching and exercises of the toes or you may need special shoes or even surgery.

Foot Spasms

A sudden, sharp pain in the foot is the hallmark of a muscle spasm or cramp, which can last many minutes. Overwork and muscle fatigue are common causes. Other causes include poor circulation, dehydration, or imbalances in potassium, magnesium, calcium, or vitamin D levels in the body. The changing hormone levels of pregnancy or thyroid disorders may play a role. If spasms are frequent or severe, see a doctor. Strengthening exercises can help with muscle fatigue.

Dark Spot on the Foot

We associate skin cancer with the sun, so we’re not as likely to check our feet for unusual spots. However, a melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can develop in areas that are not regularly exposed to the sun. Melanoma can even appear beneath the nail, where it might look like a black spot.

Yellow Toenails

Your toenails tell a lot about your overall health. A fungal infection often causes thickened yellow toenails. Thick, yellow nails also can be a sign of an underlying disease, including lymphedema (swelling related to the lymphatic system), lung problems, psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Spoon-shaped Toenails

Sometimes an injury to the nail or frequent exposure to petroleum-based solvents can create a concave, spoon-like shape. However, iron deficiency also can cause this unusual shape.

White Nails

Injury to the nail or illness anywhere in the body can cause white areas in the nails. If part or all of a nail separates from the nail bed (shown here), it can appear white — and may be due to an injury, nail infection, or psoriasis. If the nail is intact and most of it is white, it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition including liver disease, congestive heart failure, or kidney disease. Talk with your health care team about any concerns.

Pitting of the Nails

Pitting, or punctured-looking depressions in the surface of the nail, is caused by a disruption in the growth of the nail at the nail plate. It affects as many as half of people with psoriasis.


Restore Health to 5000 Nigerians with Hypertension

Restore Health to 5000 Nigerians with Hypertension


Restore Health to 5000 Nigerians with Hypertension


This project will raise awareness about prevention and provide training to community volunteers to act as health champions who will screen, treat, and share vital information on hypertension and diabetes through peers group, meetings, and through other health campaigns. We will provide medical screening, medications, nutritional supplements, and advice that will aid 5,000 people in Ibadan communities to cope with existing conditions and live a healthy lifestyle.

total goal
monthly donors


Nigeria has one of the highest rates of hypertension in the world, with studies showing rates between 30% and 45%. Hypertension accounts for about 25% of emergencies in Nigerian hospitals. Researchers recommend increased awareness and interventions for prevention and early detection of hypertension. This is particularly urgent in Oyo State. Even with early diagnosis, high cost of medication is forcing patients to seek an alternative to drugs or go without treatment.


Rays of Hope Support Initiative will Continue raising awareness and educating about Hypertension and Diabetes in underserved communities, expanding our reach to 5,000 people in at least five different communities Provide training to 10 volunteers, or “Health Champions” Provide medical screening, medications, and nutritional supplements to at least 400 of those with the greatest need Providing treatment to those with an existing condition can help reduce the rate of illness and death.

Long-Term Impact

ROHSI aims to reduce the prevalence of hypertension in Nigeria in the long-term. We will create partnerships with government health agencies and community development associations to bring awareness and treatment to more communities. We will get closer to our vision of a low prevalence of hypertension in Nigeria, but we can’t do it without your help!


http:/ /
Our organization main website
This is our facebook page
our twitter page

Organization Information

Rays Of Hope Support Initiative

LOCATION: Ibadan, Oyo – Nigeria
WEBSITE: http:/ /
Rays Of Hope Support Initiative
Benjamin Olorunfemi
Benjamin Olorunfemi
Ibadan, Oyo Nigeria



Restore Health to 5000 Nigerians with Hypertension


Diabetes is a prevalent disease. However, it can still take many by surprise, and leave them struggling to pay medical bills.

With the complexities of the condition and the wide range of costs involved with treatment, having a financing plan is necessary. Health insurance is obviously one of the primary methods of assistance. But not everyone has the adequate coverage to cover
the costs – let alone the out-of-pocket cash to put on the counter every time out.

Opening a savings account, particularly one with high interest, could be a worthwhile investment toward consistently managing the disease today and into the future.

Diabetes at a glance

Type 1 Diabetes
A condition that keeps the body from producing enough insulin. Insulin shots are used to control blood glucose levels. Most diagnoses occur among children and young adults, which is why it is also referred to as juvenile diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes
The most common form of the condition where the body doesn’t properly use insulin to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.

Gestational Diabetes
Occurs when women experience high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It’s usually easily managed and goes away after pregnancy.

When blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. A large number of Americans are living with prediabetes (1 out of 3 adults). But taking early action to manage glucose levels can prevent diabetes from forming.

People who have diabetes are at higher risk of developing the following health conditions:

  • Blindness
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Loss of lower appendages (toes, feet, or legs)

Keep in mind – these conditions occur in the case of severe complications with the disease. With consistent attention to diet and other medical treatments (like most living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes undergo), these conditions are avoidable.

Diabetes by the numbers

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. Of that, only 12% were aware that they had it. And with approximately 1.5 million new cases being diagnosed every year, the need for education and financial support is clear.

Rates of diagnosis for the following ethnic groups

  • 7.4% of non-Hispanic whites
  • 8.0% of Asian Americans
  • 12.1% of Hispanics
  • 12.7% of non-Hispanic blacks
  • 15.1% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives

Breakdown among Asian Americans:

  • 4.3% diagnosed were Chinese
  • 8.9% diagnosed were Filipinos
  • 11.2% diagnosed were Asian Indians
  • 8.5% diagnosed were identified as other Asian Americans

Breakdown among Hispanic adults:

  • 8.5% diagnosed were Central and South Americans
  • 9.0% diagnosed were Cubans
  • 13.8% diagnosed were Mexican Americans
  • 12.0% diagnosed were Puerto Ricans

Underreported deaths due to diabetes

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States (seventh as of 2015). However, studies have found that it is also among the most underreported. According to the American Diabetes Association®, only 35% of people who died with diabetes had the disease listed on their death certificate. And of that number, only 10% had diabetes identified as the cause of death.

There are a number of possible reasons for the underreported rate. But a lot points to the lack of ability to pay for adequate diagnosis and proper medical treatment.

What specific costs will someone with diabetes have to address?

If you or your child are diagnosed with diabetes, or you’re told that you have prediabetes, management and prevention take center stage. While a lot involves diet and exercise, medication will inevitably have an effect on your finances as well.

According to the American Diabetes Association® (ADA), medical costs for a person with diabetes averages out to $16,750 per year (a total of $327 billion nationwide in 2017). Of that amount, $9,601 is attributed to treatment specifically for diabetes. That’s more than twice the medical cost for people without diabetes.

Of the $327 billion nationally, $237 billion was attributed to direct diabetes medical costs and $90 billion was attributed to indirect costs – absenteeism and reduced productivity at work. Understanding the different forms of diabetes treatment, as well as the direct and indirect costs, is important for wrapping your head around plans for financing.

Type Treatments
Type 1 Diabetes
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Insulin therapy
  • Regular blood glucose tests/monitoring
Type 2 Diabetes
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Insulin therapy
  • Other medication
Gestational Diabetes
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Monitoring sugar intake
  • Monitoring the baby
Direct Medical Costs ($9,601/year) Indirect Medical Costs ($90 billion nationally)
Prescription medication (30% of total cost) Loss of productivity due to mortality ($20 billion nationally)
Hospital care (30% of total cost) Inability to work as a result of diabetes ($40 billion nationally)
Routine doctor’s office visits (15% of total cost) Reduced productivity while at work ($30 billion)
Other medications and supplies (25% of total cost) Reduced productivity due to increased absences and loss of employment from diabetes ($6 billion)


Insulin injections are one of the primary forms of medical treatment used to manage diabetes. Especially for those living with type 1 diabetes, who can’t produce insulin of their own, these types of injections are vital for survival. However, the cost for insulin has skyrocketed in recent years, leaving many in the position of having to choose between going into debt or cutting back on medication.

The average cost for insulin as of 2015: $100-$200 per month
An average cost for insulin as of 2018: $400-$500 per month

Insulin Apidra, Humulin, Lantuo, Lente, Levemin, Novolog, Novolin, NPH Insulin, Regular Iletin, Regular Insulin, Velosulin
Insulin Syringes BD Ultrafine, Levemir®, Monoject, NovoFine®, Ulticare, UniFine, UltiGaurd
Insulin Pumps Animas, Deltec, Medtronic

Diabetes screenings and other medications

Along with your normal doctor’s visits, diabetes screenings are an important part of the process for identifying the disease. Specifically, if you have been diagnosed, testing your blood glucose levels will become a regular part of your life. Much of the costs for medications involved should be covered by your health insurance. And there are a number of home testing devices you can invest in to help make things more convenient and cost-effective.

Blood Glucose Test Meters and Test Strips Abbott Freestyle®, Abbott Flash, Accu-Chek Compact®, Ascensia Elite, Ascencia Breeze, Ascensia Contour, Lifescan One-Touch©, Prestige
Injectable Medications Byetta (Exenatide) injection and Symlin (Pramlintide Acetate) injection, Victoza (lLiraglutide- rDNA origin) injection
Oral Medications Acarbose, Avandia, Chlorpropamide, Diabinese, Glipizide, Glucophage, Glucotrol, Gylset, Meglitol, Metformin, Prandin, Precose, Repaglinide, Rosiglitazone (These drugs act in different ways to lower blood glucose levels and may be prescribed in combination with other medication.)

Diabetes health expenditures according to group

Depending on whether you or your child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, total expenditures can vary. Those who manage their condition at home, through diet, exercise, and home testing will have different averages than those needing regular appointments with specialists. According to the American Diabetes Association®, average total healthcare expenditures for diabetes treatment differ according to gender, race, and states with the highest populations of people diagnosed.

Men: $10,060
Women: $9,110

Hispanics: $8,050
Non-hispanic Blacks: $10,470
Non-hispanic Whites: $9,800

States with the highest population of people with diabetes
New York: $21 billion in healthcare expenditures
Florida: $24 billion in healthcare expenditures
Texas:  $25 billion in healthcare expenditures
California: $39 billion in healthcare expenditures

Options for diabetes treatment financing

In a recent online survey of 500 adults with diabetes, more than half of the participants acknowledged the medical costs involved has had a negative impact on their finances. Many also admitted to going to “extreme lengths” to cover the costs. These lengths include accruing credit card debt, borrowing money from family or friends, and tapping into a savings or retirement account. Many may feel the need to take some extra financial risks because they don’t feel as supported as they’d like. Understanding your options will help you make the most informed choices.


Government insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid provides most of the financial assistance for diabetes care. The military also takes care of a good amount of costs for veterans. The remainder of the cost is covered by private insurance or out-of-pocket cash. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 46 states mandate that diabetes be covered under state insurance.

These states require coverage for diabetes treatment as well as equipment and supplies for home use (insulin, pumps, syringes, test meters). Four states do not have that same insurance mandate, however – Ohio, Alabama, North Dakota, and Idaho. Anyone with diabetes who live in any of those four states will most likely need to deal with a private insurer or explore other methods of financing.

Coverage from private insurers usually come through employer-sponsored group plans or individual health plans. Advisors would suggest going with employer-sponsored plans, because they offer higher protections due to being subsidized. On the other hand, if you are unemployed and venturing into the individual market, it may be difficult to find affordable coverage. The reason is that diabetes is considered a “high risk” disease. Insurance companies anticipate a high amount of claims, especially from those with pre-existing conditions. So it will be reflected in the pricing.


People who have diabetes but don’t have coverage that’s comprehensible enough for their needs may utilize a health savings account (HSA). An HSA is primarily useful for people with high deductibles (at least $1,350 individually, or $2,700 for family). Also, those who are a part of low-income families or don’t live in a “mandate state” may see this as a helpful tool. One big benefit of an HSA is that you take the money with you. There’s no “use it or lose it” policy like some other savings plans. Being able to set aside pre-taxed dollars to help pay for medical expenses can go along way when trying to manage diabetes.


Another way to set aside dollars for medical expenses is through a flexible spending account (FSA). An FSA is provided through your employer with a $2,650 limit. You can also use it to cover medical expenses for your spouse and dependents. One thing to keep in mind with FSA’s is that they do have an expiration period. You’re generally required to use the funds within your plan year. But your employer may offer extensions at their choosing. The benefit is, it can be used with any type of health plan. And diabetic supplies are eligible to be paid through FSA’s.

High interest savings account

If you’re not interested in dealing with your employer for coverage or a flexible spending account, a high interest savings account could be a good option to explore. It’s just like any other savings account, only with fewer restrictions. Not only are you saving for your medical needs, but your money is also making money. High interest savings accounts are opened through online banks – which means they don’t have to worry about maintaining branches all over the country. They can offer you higher interest rates, with the benefit of accessing your money whenever you want.

Unlike an HSA, a high interest savings account isn’t tied to a high deductible health plan with a dollar limit. And unlike an FSA, there’s no expiration date on when you can use your money. It removes any additional stress so you can concentrate on managing your condition properly. And as you earn interest, you can still take advantage of a number of outreach resources available for people with diabetes.

This condition can be a tough one to get a handle on, but it’s not insurmountable. Let your understanding of diabetes, your knowledge of its treatments, and your strategy for tackling costs work in your favor.

Understanding the costs of diabetes treatment and planning for the future

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