American Diabetes Alert Day was March 23, and the Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative has good news about diabetes. People who keep their blood glucose (sugar) as close to normal as possible in the early years following diagnosis have fewer problems with their eyes, nerves, and kidneys and have fewer heart attacks later in life.Almost 1.6 million Minnesotans have pre-diabetes or diabetes. That’s more than one in three adults and one in six youth. If current trends continue, one out of every three children born today will face a future with diabetes.
However, with interventions, individuals with diabetes and pre-diabetes (blood sugar that is higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes) can delay or even halt the disease.
The bad news is that people with type 2 diabetes can live for years without realizing that they have this serious disease. While people with type 1 diabetes can exhibit noticeable symptoms, such as frequent urination, blurred vision and excessive thirst, most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes do not show these warning signs at the time they develop the disease.
Often, type 2 diabetes only becomes evident when people develop one or more of its serious complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye damage or nerve damage that can lead to amputations.
Know Your Risk Factors: If you have a blood relative with type 2 diabetes, such as a parent, brother or sister, you are much more likely to develop diabetes yourself unless you do something to reduce your risk. Other risk factors include people who are overweight, physically inactive, and over the age of 45 years. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders and women who have had babies weighing more than nine pounds at birth are at an increased risk.
Take the Diabetes Risk Test: The diabetes risk test is available in English and Spanish from the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-342-2383 or at www.stopdiabetes.com. It asks simple questions about your weight, age, family history and other risk factors and will show if you are at low, moderate, or high risk for diabetes.
Knowing your risk can empower you to make changes to prevent diabetes. Talk to your health care provider about ways to lower your risk.
Take Steps to Prevent Diabetes: Studies show the risk of diabetes can be cut in half by taking a few simple steps:
• Get tested for diabetes every year if you have a family history of diabetes.
• Build up to 30 minutes of physical activity a day, 5 days a week.
• Follow a low-calorie, low-fat eating plan; eat a balanced diet most days with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
• If you are overweight, try losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight (usually about 10 pounds).
The Minnesota Diabetes and Heart Health Collaborative is a group of representatives from 15 of the state’s leading non-profit health organizations who work together to provide consistent diabetes messages and promote best diabetes practices to providers and consumers statewide. Learn more at www.mn-dc.org.