Many At-Risk for Diabetes Unaware of Problem

Skin Infections. Nerve Damage. Kidney Disease.

Left unchecked, type 2 diabetes can cause serious health complications.

Unfortunately, many people who are at-risk for diabetes or prediabetes have no idea they should be making lifestyle and behavior changes to improve their health.

In fact, only three in 10 adults, ages 40 and older, who have modifiable risk factors for diabetes think they have “a great deal” or “some” risk for diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. And four in 10 at-risk adults believe they have no risk for diabetes or prediabetes, a news release states. The statistics come from surveys of 601 health care providers and 1,426 consumers who were at least 40 years old.

The good news is that once people understand their risk for type 2 diabetes, they can do something about it.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Choosing nutritious foods and making regular exercise a habit are two effective ways to minimize a person’s risk, according to the ADA. By choosing nutritious foods and controlling portion sizes, many people are able to lose weight, lower unhealthy cholesterol levels, lower their blood pressure and reduce blood glucose levels.

Another healthy step is to quit smoking, according to the ADA. Not only can smoking damage a person’s heart and lungs, it also raises levels of bad cholesterol and blood pressure – increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In an effort to educate and empower people to take action for their health, the American Diabetes Association has implemented CheckUp America, a national prevention initiative aimed at helping Americans learn how to lower their risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. CheckUp America works to help people manage these factors and thereby reduce disease risk through public and physician education campaigns, in addition to online, interactive resources, the news release states.

Part of the challenge, according to health care providers, is getting patients to take their risk seriously. Too many of them “are in denial,” the providers reported in the survey. Another challenge is that while patients may know that diet and exercise lowers their diabetes risk, many of them are still overweight or obese.

“Nearly 80 percent of at-risk patients think they are in “excellent” or “good health,” even though they don’t regularly implement good health habits and don’t believe they are at risk, or have control over lowering their cardiometabolic risk,” the news release states.

Cardiometabolic risk is a group of factors that indicate a patient’s overall risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

While some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as age, gender and family history, other factors – weight, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking, diet and exercise habits – can be changed by making healthier choices.

Source: American Diabetes Association

+ Read about Diabetes Management at Bon Secours Hampton Roads.

+ Learn how to recognize the symptoms of diabetes.

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