Which State Had The Most Deaths From Diabetes In 2021?

Diabetes is an incredibly common condition, affecting about 11% of the U.S. population in 2019, according to the American Diabetes Association. That's a staggering total of 37.3 million Americans. While common, diabetes can also be incredibly dangerous if not treated properly, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

In 2019, 87,000 people died from diabetes (via Reuters). And in 2020 and 2021, that number rose by 17% and 15%, respectively. Diabetes mellitus, also known as diabetes, is a condition in which your body has trouble managing its blood sugar, either due to not making enough insulin or not being able to use insulin well (via Healthline). Insulin is the hormone that lets sugar from the bloodstream enter cells for use as fuel or to be stored for later. Blood sugar is often high in those with diabetes, which can lead to severe complications if not treated, such as nerve damage, hearing loss, foot damage, vision loss, heart disease, and more.

Complications can be avoided with proper treatment of diabetes, including lifestyle changes and medication. Lifestyle changes, like exercise and a healthy diet, are important for people with type 2 diabetes. Those with type 1 diabetes, who don't produce enough insulin, need to take an insulin injection to manage their blood sugar.

An epidemic of diabetes

Unfortunately, a number of barriers prevent people from getting the treatment they need, which can lead to death, and some U.S. states fare worse than others. In 2021, West Virginia had the most deaths from diabetes, at 43.5 per 100,000 people. Mississippi and Arkansas followed closely behind, with Mississippi having 41.9 deaths per 100,000 and Arkansas with 38.7. On the other hand, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Massachusetts had the lowest death count from diabetes in 2021, with Connecticut at 16 per 100,000 people, Hawaii at 16.4, and Massachusetts at 16.5.

In West Virginia, it's estimated that over 15% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the Monongalia County Health Department. The condition is considered to be an epidemic in the state, and some believe the high death rate is due to a lack of education and treatment in extremely rural areas. Co-morbidities, or factors that put you at a higher risk of diabetes, are also rampant in West Virginia, like obesity, physical inactivity, and hypertension (via West Virginia Division of Health & Human Resources).

A huge barrier to all Americans in need of diabetes medication is the rising cost of insulin, which may contribute to the mortality rate (via Yale News). In general, insulin list prices have doubled over the last 10 years, and it doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. Policy changes, like price regulation and Medicare cost negotiation, could be helpful in ensuring all Americans have better diabetes outcomes.