MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Robert A. Vigersky, MD
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Medical Research: What type of patients do endocrinologists typically treat and why is the demand for their services anticipated to grow?
Dr. Vigersky: Endocrinologists are physicians trained in managing, diagnosing, and treating disorders of the endocrine system: thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, hypophyseal and hypothalamic axes, ovaries, testes, and pancreas. Their role involves controlling diabetes mellitus, menopause, hyperthyroidism and other conditions involving metabolism.
A major factor affecting the anticipated demand for health care services is the aging population. In 2010, there were 37.5 million people age 65 or over, constituting about 12.7 percent of the total population, and by 2025 the population age 65 or over will number 62.5 million (17.9 percent of the population). Due to the greater prevalence of many of the diseases in older age groups, like osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, and thyroid nodules, the growth in the population age 65 or over will exert a major influence on the demand for endocrine services.
Diabetes, by itself, is a major driver of demand. The incidence of Type 2 diabetes rises dramatically with age, and with obesity. In an increasingly overweight population an estimated 22.3 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes as of 2012, representing about 7 percent of the population. This estimate is higher than but consistent with those published by the CDC for 2010. The percentage of the population with diagnosed diabetes continues to rise, with one study projecting that as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue.