Diabetes is a much more serious problem in the United States than many people may think. When you think of leading causes of death in our country, you are perhaps more likely to think of smoking or car crashes than diabetes. But every year more and more people are diagnosed with this potentially life-threatening medical condition.
Education is the key to awareness. So read on for some hard facts about diabetes, because the more you know, the more you may be prepared to care for yourself or a loved one in the future.
1. Types. Like many health problems, diabetes isn’t cut and dried. There are different levels and types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, which used to be called juvenile diabetes, is when the body does not produce insulin (which is needed to break sugar down into energy for the body to use). Type 2 diabetes is the most commonly diagnosed form. This type begins with the body using insulin improperly. As the body tries to compensate by producing more insulin, it eventually loses the ability to “keep up.” A third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which can develop in pregnant women.
2. Heart of the matter. Nearly 70% of people with diabetes die from heart attack or stroke, a frighteningly high statistic. It’s important to realize that there’s more to managing diabetes than blood sugar levels. Blood pressure and cholesterol are extremely important for diabetic health. So if you or a loved one is living with diabetes make sure that you’ve got a good handle on all of these vital numbers.
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3. Mind your feet. Foot health is actually very important to those living with diabetes. The body’s inability to properly use insulin can lead to build-ups in blood vessels, restricting circulation and leading to nerve disease. Many consequential problems result in amputation. For this reason, foot care – and education – should be monitored closely by diabetics.
4. Prediabetes. Prediabetes is nearly always the predecessor of Type 2 diabetes. This means that the body’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are an astonishing number of prediabetics in the United States alone – as estimated 54 million, according to the American Diabetes Association. A prediabetic diagnosis does not mean you will develop diabetes; proper care, diet and physical activity can reverse the problems and set you back on the right track.
Whether or not you know someone now who suffers from this medical condition, chances are increasing that you WILL know someone with diabetes in your lifetime. In fact, it is a big risk for everyone over the age of 65.
So take the time now to educate yourself on these important facts about diabetes. For more information, please visit the American Diabetes Association’s website at Diabetes.org.