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November is Diabetes Awareness Month

diabetes awareness month

November is Diabetes Awareness Month! This year, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) along with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) are partnering up to focus on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

According to the NHLBI, adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. 

It’s important to know the different types of diabetes and how to manage or prevent this potentially life-threatening condition.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a serious condition known to be the precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar levels show higher than normal but are not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults in the United States, or approximately 84 million adults, have prediabetes.

Among those who have prediabetes, about 90% are unaware of their condition.

Prediabetes goes undetected for years without showing any obvious symptoms. Your risk factors for prediabetes increase if you are: 

  • Overweight
  • 45 years of age or older
  • Have a family history of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Have gestational diabetes – or diabetes during pregnancy or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs 
  • Physically active for less than three times a week
  • Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Genetics and ethnicity also play a role – African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at a higher risk of prediabetes. 

Prediabetes is reversible with proper diet, exercise, and weight management so it’s important to talk to your doctor about testing your blood sugar if you have any of the risk factors.  

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is a hormone necessary for the body to process sugar and convert it into energy. This condition is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but can be diagnosed at any age. 

While the cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown there are risk factors that can increase your chance of developing it including a family history of the disease and genetics. Since some symptoms are similar to symptoms of other health conditions, it’s important to stay in regular contact with your doctor and have regular blood tests.

While this condition isn’t currently preventable, there are ways to manage type 1 diabetes following your doctor’s recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Type 2 diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, cells do not respond normally to insulin to use blood sugar as energy – this is known as insulin resistance. The pancreas eventually cannot keep up for the insulin demand which sets the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The most common risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. 

90-95% of the 30 million Americans who are diabetic have type 2 diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes can be managed through a healthier lifestyle – following a healthier diet, being more physically active, managing your stress and getting enough sleep. Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe insulin medication to avoid complications and control your blood sugar. 

The link between cardiovascular disease and diabetes

According to the American Heart Association, diabetes is one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease

People living with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, are at an increased risk for heart disease or stroke due to having other contributing conditions, including: 

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides 
  • Obesity 
  • Lack of physical activity 
  • Smoking 
  • Poor stress or anger management

Managing diabetes and living a healthy lifestyle

By managing blood sugar and other risk factors, individuals with diabetes may live a relatively normal lifestyle and avoid the development of cardiovascular disease. Here are a few things you can do to either prevent or manage diabetes and prevent heart disease: 

  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Manage your stress 
  • Stop smoking 
  • Moderate your alcohol consumption
  • Get regular check-ups with your doctor

Don’t wait until it’s too late to check-in with your doctor about your health! Schedule your annual check-up with Dopson Family Medical Center’s Primary Care and Family Practice team by calling (904) 259-7815