Education

Endocrinologist: Here’s Who Should Be Screened for Prediabetes or Diabetes

Today, the number of people with diabetes is higher than it has ever been. The numbers are striking: More than 37 million Americans — about 1 in 10 — have diabetes, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 1 in 5 people with diabetes don’t know they have it.

Moreover, 96 million American adults— more than 1 in 3 — have prediabetes. More than 8 in 10 adults with prediabetes don’t know they have it. The continuing U.S. obesity epidemic continues to fuel higher rates of type 2 diabetes.

dr herberto valdez

Heberto Valdes, M.D., an endocrinologist with Baptist Health South Florida.

With type 1 diabetes, the body can’t make insulin and you’ll need to take insulin every day to survive. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well. The good news, states the CDC: type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes.

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. With prediabetes, your body may not be able to fully use the insulin it makes, or it may not make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

“The most important thing to keep in mind: If you suspect diabetes, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight, then be proactive in getting an A1C test,” explains Heberto Valdes, M.D., an endocrinologist with Baptist Health South Florida. “It is equally important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week, maintain a well-balanced diet, and always follow up with your primary care physician for screenings and routine exams.”

The A1C test is a common blood test used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or above on two separate occasions confirms the diagnosis of diabetes. A1C test results are reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels over the past two to three months.

Taking steps to maintain an ideal weight through healthy eating and exercise can prevent prediabetics from becoming diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes can be asymptomatic. So, diagnosing the condition can be a challenge.

“You should be screened for prediabetes or diabetes,” explains Dr. Valdes, “if you are overweight or obese and have one or more risk factors – such as having a family history of diabetes mellitus, belonging to a high-risk ethnicity like Hispanics or African Americans, having a history of coronary artery disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, or just simply lacking of physical inactivity. This can easily be done by obtaining an A1C test, which is your three-month average glucose.”

You’re at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Have prediabetes — when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
  • Are overweight.
  • Are 45 years or older.
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
  • Are physically active less than 3 times a week.
  • Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds.
  • Are an African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native person. Some Pacific Islanders and Asian American people are also at higher risk.

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 13 hospitals, more than 23,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 100 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.