Diabetes: Are You at Risk?

National Diabetes Month picture of healthy fruits

If you have Type 2 diabetes—nearly one-tenth of Americans do—you are almost
twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without this malady.
And did you know your risk of diabetes increases with age?

Among those 45-64 years of age, 17% have diabetes, and 25% of those ages
65 and older have the disease. Yet, nearly one in four don’t know they have the
condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another third of Americans have prediabetes, a condition that often leads to Type 2 diabetes within five years if left untreated.

Over the years, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage blood vessels
and nerves, create inflammation, and consequently damage kidneys, eyes, brain
and feet.
November is National Diabetes Month. This year’s focus is the link between
diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Check out the following diabetic ABCs
provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:
~ A is for the A1C test. This shows your average blood glucose level over
the past three months. The A1C goal for many diabetics is below 7 percent. The
average reading for non-diabetic American adults is 5.5.
~ B is for blood pressure. Most diabetics should establish a blood pressure
goal below 140/90.
~ C is for cholesterol. Your blood contains two kinds of cholesterol: LDL and
HDL. The “bad” cholesterol, LDL, can clog your blood vessels, while HDL, the
“good” cholesterol, helps to sweep LDL away. Doctor-prescribed statins may be
necessary to lower your cholesterol and protect the heart.
~ S is for “stop smoking.” Though not directly linked to diabetes, both smoking
and diabetes narrow blood vessels and overwork your heart. Avoiding cigarettes
lowers your risk for heart attack, stroke, nerve disease, kidney disease, eye disease
and amputation.
The smokers’ national quitline is at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), or go to smokefree.gov for tips.
Parting points
It is essential to follow a healthy eating plan, exercise regularly, maintain a
proper weight, learn to handle stress, and get adequate rest and sleep. Cut down
on sugar too. Excess sugar intake can lead to obesity, which in turn can create
insulin resistance.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (150
calories) of sugar daily for men and no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for
women. Also, studies have shown that something as simple as a 5 to 10% weight
loss can send Type 2 diabetes into remission.

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