The American Diabetes Association sets aside the last Tuesday of March every year to sound the alarm on Diabetes. Diabetes Alert Day aims to educate the public about the prevalence and serious complications of diabetes; the importance of risk screening; testing; and action to lower one's risks of developing Type 2 Diabetes. This year, Alert Day is on March 27.
Type 2 Diabetes is a serious and life-threatening disease that has reached epidemic proportions globally. According to the CDC, there are 30.3 million people living with Diabetes in the United States. That’s one out of every 10 people, and 25 percent are unaware that they even have the disease.
Even more concerning is the fact that there are 84.1 million more living with prediabetes, and 90 percent don’t know it. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Without major changes, as many as one in three adults could have Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetime.
Type 2 Diabetes is the leading cause of adult onset blindness, lower limb amputation and kidney failure. Chronic, elevated blood sugar damages nerves, small and large blood vessels and significantly increase your risks of developing cardiovascular disease. Many people are asymptomatic for years and unaware they even have Diabetes until they present with a complication. For these reasons, screening is critical. It’s also easy and takes only a few minutes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends screening adults with the following risk factors:
- First degree relative with Diabetes (father, mother, sister, brother)
- High risk race/ethnicity (African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander)
- History of high blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
- Gestational Diabetes (Diabetes in pregnancy) or delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
If you have any of these risk factors, take an online screening test. Go to www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test or visit www.diabeteskareconsulting.com and click on “Take the Prediabetes Risk Test.”
If you score 5 or higher, you likely have prediabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Contact your health care provider to schedule an appointment to be tested. A fasting blood sugar or A1c can determine if you have prediabetes and are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
The good news is that studies show simple, proven lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by more than half. Weight loss, heathy eating and exercise are key. It’s never too late to start. So, take the few minutes, get screened and tested. If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, start today to make small healthier lifestyle choices to lower your risks of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Written by Scherrie Keating RN, BSN, CDE
Diabetes Kare Consulting, LLC