Education

Diabetes: Find Out If You’re At Risk

Diabetes is becoming more common in the United States, and the data is startling.  From 1980 through 2014, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes increased four-fold, from 5.5 million to 22.0 million, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And then there’s “prediabetes” – a condition that affects an estimated one-third of the U.S. population, putting individuals at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes because they’re blood glucose levels are higher than normal. Prediabetes also puts someone at a higher risk for heart disease and other complications.

The troubling statistics confer a greater urgency to the observance of Diabetes Alert Day, which is today, March 22. On the fourth Tuesday of every March, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) encourages everyone to take less than five minutes and answer seven questions at the following link: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test/

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 involves questions about any family history of diabetes, a person’s 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.

“The online test is a start, but it does not substitute for your annual physical, during which your doctor can find out through routine blood work and a medical history if you are at risk for diabetes,” says Yariela Enriquez, M.D., a Baptist Health Medical Group physician with Baptist Health Primary Care. “Most people may not realize that they are prediabetic and may need to improve their diet and start exercising to minimize their risk, especially if they are overweight.”

The ADA reiterates what Dr. Enriquez point outs: You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by keeping a healthy weight, staying active and eating well – with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats (while keeping “added sugars” at a low level).

“Your primary doctor will work with you to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk for developing, not just diabetes, but heart disease and other complications,” says Dr. Enriquez. “For example, a healthy diet and regular exercise can also reduce risks associated with high cholesterol readings and high blood pressure.”

Top Risk Factors

The following are risk factors for diabetes, with links to more information on each topic from the American Diabetes Association.

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.