The American Diabetes Association® reports that nine out of 10 Americans at highest risk for type 2 diabetes, commonly called adult-onset diabetes,
do not know about their health risk. On March 26, American Diabetes Association Alert Day® invites adults and youth to take the free, anonymous Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test. The online questions such as “Do you have a family history of diabetes?” are straightforward with easy yes/no answers. Alert Day is the ideal time to learn how to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and encourage family and friends to take the risk test, too.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Weight. Excess fatty tissue makes cells resistant to using insulin properly.
- Family history. If a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes, your risk increases.
- Inactivity. A more sedentary lifestyle lowers the use of glucose as energy and makes cells less sensitive to insulin levels.
- Ethnicity. Although the cause is unknown, being African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander or Asian-American boosts the risk for becoming diabetic.
- Age. Being age 45 or older increases the risk of diabetes, perhaps because older adults tend to lose muscle mass, exercise less and gain more weight than when younger.
- High blood pressure. An increased risk for type 2 diabetes is linked to blood pressure over 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
- Depression. Having depression in midlife or later in life can occur with medical conditions including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
- Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The risk for type 2 diabetes elevates when high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as the “good” cholesterol, is low, and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) are high.
- Gestational diabetes. Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy or give birth to a baby more than nine pounds run a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. Women who have this condition, which produces irregular menstrual periods, obesity and excess hair growth, incur increased risk of diabetes.
Follow these screening guidelines for type 2 diabetes:
- If you are age 45 or older, your doctor should screen you every three years.
- If you have one or more diabetes risk factors, such as being overweight, having a family history of diabetes or having high blood pressure or triglycerides, you should be screened at an earlier age.
- If you have chronic high blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or above or you use blood pressure medication, you should consult with your doctor on the timing of diabetes screenings.
Tips for self-management of diabetes include the following:
- Checking blood sugar levels regularly.
- Watching weight.
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Resting adequately.
- Getting consistent physical exercise.
- Employing technology that tracks blood sugar.
- Seeing a healthcare provider as often as advised.
For more information about community resources for the prevention and management of diabetes, contact the Orlando-Maitland Florida Office of the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org or call 407.660.1926.
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