Diabetes Network News | Published March 27, 2012 | Written by Rose Villarreal, MS, PA-C, director of the Mount Nittany Health Diabetes Network

Determine your risk for type 2 diabetes on Diabetes Alert Day

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in both Pennsylvania and in the nation as a whole. Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes; of those, approximately 90 - 95 percent have type 2 diabetes. One-quarter of the people in this country who have diabetes do not know they have this disease. Often, diagnosis occurs seven to 10 years after disease onset as a result of complications that have developed. Poorly managed diabetes leads to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation of limbs, kidney disease, psychosocial distress and nerve damage.

An additional 79 million people - or one in three adults - in the United States have prediabetes. People with prediabetes have blood glucose (sugar) levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Those with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and are also at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

Other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being age 45 or older
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having abnormal cholesterol (lipid) levels
  • Having had gestational diabetes
  • Having had a baby weighing 9 lbs. or more at birth

In addition, certain ethnic groups are at increased risk, including African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Alaska Natives.

The good news is that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed with increased physical activity, healthy eating, weight management and sometimes medication.

Learn your risk for developing type 2 diabetes today by taking the American Diabetes Association's updated diabetes risk test. An online version was launched today - the 24th Annual American Diabetes Association Alert Day®. Diabetes Alert Day is dedicated to raising awareness about prediabetes and diabetes and prompting action by the public in an effort to prevent the disease and its associated complications.

Visit stopdiabetes.com, call 1.800.DIABETES (1.800.342.2383) or click on the above link to access the diabetes risk test year-round. It consists of simple questions about age, weight, family history and other potential risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and only takes a minute to complete. Please share your test results with your healthcare provider to determine if more testing is needed, as well as to develop a plan to lower your risk. Urge family members, friends and colleagues to take the diabetes risk test, too, as a way to protect their own health.

For more information about diabetes, including how you can take part in Mount Nittany's diabetes education classes and support groups, please visit mountnittany.org or diabetes.org.