The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, of which 19 million have been diagnosed. That means 7 million Americans are unaware they have diabetes. Additionally, 79 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition where the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. Insulin is the hormone that takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. Diabetes occurs when insulin production fails and the glucose builds up in the blood rather than being delivered to the cells.
The prevalence and early onset of prediabetes is a concern of physicians because long-term damage to the heart and circulatory system may already be occurring. Left untreated, prediabetes typically leads to Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes.
Risk factors for pre-diabetes/diabetes include:
- Over age 45
- Physical inactivity
- Family history of diabetes
- Low HDL (good) cholesterol or high triglycerides
- High blood pressure
- African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders
Early discovery of prediabetes through testing may help delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes through reduction in risk factors like adopting a more healthy diet, increasing exercise, and weight loss.
Annual check-ups and lifestyle changes are your best defense against diabetes. Talk with your physician about your concerns.