Monday, July 14, 2014

Are You At Risk for Diabetes?

All month on the blog, we're talking about diabetes. And we know that some of you are thinking, "Well, I don't have diabetes. Why should I care about this?" Well, considering how many people across the country do have Type 2 diabetes, chances are you know someone who does have diabetes, whether it's a friend, co-worker, or family member.

And then there's the fact of prediabetes, a condition in which someone's blood sugar levels are elevated, though not enough to JUSTIFY a diagnosis of diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 79 million Americans, and half of those over the age of 65, have prediabetes. The truly scary part though is that just 7% of those with diabetes know that they have it, and many of those with prediabetes show no symptoms. If only for that reason, it's worth taking a look at prediabetes and the risk factors associated with diabetes.

For good, easy-to-print information on prediabetes, check out this handout from the American Diabetes Association. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse also has some great information on prediabetes, including a list of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to be tested for prediabetes. Among those factors are being over the age of 45 and being overweight in combination with any of the following:
  • being physically inactive
  • having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • having a history of gestational diabetes
  • being African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, Native American, or Asian American (these populations typically have higher concentrations of those with diabetes)
There are also several interactive tools online that can help you determine your risk for diabetes. While these should not be considered definitive, they can help you figure out what to talk to your doctor about in regard to diabetes. Here are a couple tools to try:
  • The Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine's Your Disease Risk covers diabetes, as well as several other diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
  • The American Diabetes Association has a page devoted to tools to help determine Type 2 diabetes risk, including a short questionnaire.
If you think you might be at risk of diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association's website, which has a whole section devoted to ways in which you can lower your risk through exercise, eating right, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Stay tuned this month for more information about diabetes!

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