American Diabetes Month
November is American Diabetes Month . It's a time to spread awareness about the disease that affects over 25 million Americans. But most people don't know that prediabetes affects almost three times that many people and is often left untreated.
Diabetes vs. Prediabetes
- Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that develops when your body cannot make enough insulin or cannot use insulin the right way. Insulin helps your body use sugar as energy. Without insulin, the sugar stays in your blood. This buildup of blood sugar can lead to problems like heart disease, kidney failure or stroke.
- Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than it should be, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Staying at a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise can help keep prediabetes from becoming diabetes.
What's Your Risk?
Risk factors for prediabetes are similar to those for type 2 diabetes. They include:
- Being overweight
- Family history of diabetes. Risk increases if you have a parent, brother or sister with the disease.
- Race and Ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk than whites for type 2 diabetes.
- History of gestational diabetes. Women who had gestational diabetes while pregnant are at a greater risk of getting diabetes later in life.
Having prediabetes doesn't automatically mean you'll get type 2 diabetes. You can lower your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices like:
- Losing weight. Losing just 5-7% of your body weight can help.
- Eating healthy. Meals should be low in fat, sodium and sugar.
- Exercising regularly. Most doctors recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Ask your doctor what he/she recommends for you.
If you do develop type 2 diabetes you can prevent or reduce your risk for complications by having these tests each year:
- A1c (blood sugar)
- LDL-C (bad cholesterol)
- Microalbumin (kidney function)
- Dilated eye exam
HAP Can Help
To learn more about preventing or managing diabetes, visit HAP's CareTrack website. You'll find helpful education and you can download and print materials like a patient action plan or diabetes checklist .