New government statistics suggest people with diabetes are much more likely to develop heart disease and eventually have parts of their lower bodies amputated. Two studies released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to mark the start of Diabetes Awareness Month bolster the government's claim that the blood sugar disease is an unfolding epidemic. A three-year study showed diabetic women are twice as likely to develop major cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke, as women without diabetes. Diabetes can cause nerve disorders and poor circulation to the lower body, paving the way for infections that require amputation. Government statistics show the blood sugar disease rising sharply in the United States. CDC director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan calls the problem an unfolding epidemic. The rise is attributed mainly to a rise in obesity among Americans. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness , kidney failure and amputations. It kills 180-thousand Americans each year.