Life

Have You Taken the 'Diabetes Risk Test'?

Do you know if you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes? Many Americans — even those with higher than normal blood sugar levels or “prediabetic” — just don’t know.

The American Diabetes Association’s “Alert Day,” which is held every fourth Tuesday in March (March 24 this year), is billed as a one-day wake-up call. On this day and for the rest of the month, Americans are urged to take less than five minutes and answer seven questions online at the following link: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test/

The Diabetes Risk Test asks simple questions to arrive at a score of 1 to 10. The closer to a “10” you get, the higher the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In the case of this test, the lower the score, the better.

The test asks questions pertaining to any family history of diabetes, your age, gender and body mass index (BMI), which is tied to your weight and height. The risk test also asks if you’re physically active — since being inactive can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.

“Many people don’t even know they are prediabetic unless they go in for regular checkups and blood tests,” said Yariela Enriquez, M.D., a Baptist Health Medical Group physician with Baptist Health Primary Care. “For these people, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.”

But even for those who are pre-diabetic, “there are many proven ways to reduce the risk for developing diabetes, including weight loss, improved nutrition and starting an exercise program,” Dr. Enriquez adds.

If you have prediabetes, you should be checked for type 2 diabetes every one to two years, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Blood glucose levels of 100-125 mg/dl (under 100 is considered normal) after an overnight, or eight-hour fasting period, may signal prediabetes. People with these results have impaired fasting glucose (IFG).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older have prediabetes. For adults over the age of 65 years, that figure jumps to 50 percent.

Here are some of the primary risk factors for prediabetes:

Being overweight. More and more studies conclude that being overweight or obese is a major risk factor. The more fat you carry — especially around your abdomen — the more resistant your cells are to insulin.

Inactivity. Physical activity — aerobics and weight training — helps control your weight and utilizes glucose as energy. This makes your cells more sensitive to insulin, which is especially important for those with elevated blood sugar levels.

Advancing age. People tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they get older, which increases their risk. However, the incidence of prediabetes is rising in younger age groups as well.

Family history. If a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes, there is an increased risk that you will develop the disease as well.

Race. It is unclear why, but people of certain races — including African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders — are more likely to develop prediabetes.

Healthcare that Cares

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.