PUBLISHED: 4:59 PM on Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Turning the Tide of Diabetes
You just had your blood work done and the report indicates your blood glucose levels are above normal. Look at that number and think "red warning light!" As you would with your car, it is time to haul that body in for a check up. A higher than normal blood glucose level is a key indicator that you are at risk to develop type 2 diabetes, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Diabetes is a condition in which consistently elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels can cause serious damage to just about any part of the body.

Undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke), kidney disease, blindness, nerve disease, and limb amputation along with a host of debilitating conditions which can ultimately lead to early death. It can be a complicated and frustrating health condition for people.

People most at risk for type 2 diabetes include those with a family history, African Americans Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Latinos / Hispanic Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and women with a history of gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome. If current trends continue, one out of every two children born in these groups in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

According to the American Diabetes Association, over 20 million people in the United States are living with diabetes. That's 30 times the population of Alaska. It is estimated that this number will increase to more than 30 million by the year 2030. By 2050, the number will swell to 48 million.

Type 2 diabetes is recognized as a health epidemic not only in the United States but in the world. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and has emerged as a major public health concern not only to those with the disease but to the American healthcare system. The total economic cost of diabetes in the United States in 2002 was 132 billion dollars directly and indirectly.

Almost all people have a condition known as "pre-diabetes" before developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form accounting for 90-95% of all cases,. Blood glucose levels are above normal levels but not high enough for a person to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Normal blood glucose is 99mg or less after nothing to eat or drink for 8 hours. People with pre-diabetes have glucose levels of 100-125mg. The diagnosis of diabetes is given when levels reach 126mg or higher. A simple blood test performed at the health care provider's office can reveal blood glucoses levels.

Pre-diabetes is the human equivalent to a car's warning light. It's the body's way of saying "I'm headed for trouble's time to pay attention to me!"

Fifty four million people in the U.S. are living with pre-diabetes. By identifying pre-diabetes, 60% of new cases can be prevented or delayed. By being aware of their pre-diabetes condition and making changes to their lifestyle, 32.4 million people could avoid or delay developing type 2 diabetes.

Know your blood glucose levels - ask your healthcare provider to tell you what your blood glucose level is. If you have pre-diabetes consider yourself fortunate have this knowledge and be able to make lifestyle changes to avoid it .Increased physical activity and mild weight loss is more effective in reducing the risks than medication By making healthy choices you can return your elevated blood glucose levels to normal.

What's the treatment for pre-diabetes?

1) Eat heart healthy foods: choose whole grain breads, plenty of vegetables and fruits, and lean meats.

2) If you are overweight, a 5%-10% weight loss can make a HUGE difference.

3) Get enough physical activity: Try to be active 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. It can be in 10 minutes increments 3 times a day or all at once. Participate in an activity you enjoy.

4) Stop smoking. Some studies suggest smoking raises the risk of developing diabetes.

5) Treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol

6) Learn as much as you can about your condition so you can make informed choices about your health.