BALTIMORE. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Twenty-nine million Americans have diabetes, putting them at risk for stroke and heart attack. But you probably didn’t know that 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes, meaning they have elevated blood sugar. And because there are no signs, many don’t even know they are at risk.
As an obstetrician, Dr. Robert Atlas knows the importance of monitoring his pregnant patients for signs of complications.
But two years ago, he found himself monitoring his own health complications after his doctor ordered bloodwork.
Dr. Atlas told Ivanhoe, “At that time, my blood sugar, since he had sent them, was 167 and I was like whoa, what’s this?!”
People are diagnosed with diabetes if their fasting blood sugar levels are above 126, or if a test of red blood cells known as an A1C reads higher than 6.5. Pre-diabetes is blood sugar between 100 and 125, or an A1C between 5.5 and 6.4.
Amber Champion, MD, Director of the Diabetes Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore told Ivanhoe, “Often, if the blood sugars are borderline, people don’t know.”
Despite an active lifestyle, blood tests showed Atlas was pre-diabetic. He had no symptoms.
Alison Massey, RD, CDE, the Director of Diabetes Education at Mercy Medical Center says pre-diabetes is a red flag that it’s time to make a change.
“We have research that supports that lifestyle change is so powerful at reducing your chance of developing type-two diabetes by about 50 percent,” she explained.
Here are five changes you should make if you are pre-diabetic: first, if you’re overweight, reduce your body weight by 10 percent. Exercise at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Limit or even eliminate sugary drinks. Try to make vegetables 50 percent of each meal. And finally, increase your fiber intake.
Atlas’s weight swings between 185 and 216, and he knows at the lower end his diabetes risk goes down.
Since many patients don’t know their blood sugar levels may be in the pre-diabetic range, Dr. Champion says people should be screened every three years for type-two diabetes starting at age 45. Those with a family history of diabetes, or who are overweight are at higher risk and may benefit from earlier screening.
Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Supervising Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Cortni Spearman, Assistant Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer and Brent Sucher, Editor.
PRE-DIABETES:FIVE CHANGES TO MAKE NOW
BACKGROUND: By the time you turn 45 years old there’s almost a 50 percent chance you’ll develop pre-diabetes. It means your blood sugar levels are not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes but they’re high enough that you need to start making changes. According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 86 million Americans age 20 and older have pre-diabetes, and many more may not know they have it because there are no clear symptoms. One possible sign that you may be pre-diabetic is darkened skin around the neck, armpits, elbows, knees and knuckles. If you’ve moved from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes you’ll experience extreme thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and fatigue. Doctors sometimes refer to pre-diabetes as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. This condition puts you at a higher risk for not only developing type 2 diabetes but also heart disease and stroke. In fact, you should get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked, too.
WHAT TO DO: If you’re diagnosed with pre-diabetes it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop diabetes. Some people can return their blood glucose levels to normal range with diet and exercise. People who are obese can lower their risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent by losing just seven percent of their body weight. By far the fastest way to lower your blood glucose is through physical activity. Exercise results in an increased sensitivity to insulin; it causes your muscle cells to take up more glucose, leaving less of it to circulate in your bloodstream during and after the physical activity. Doctors recommend blood glucose screening if you have any of the risk factors for pre-diabetes, including: if you have a body mass index above 25, if you don’t exercise, if you smoke, if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, if you are African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian-American or a Pacific Islander, or you have high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol.
FEWER DIABETICS: The number of new cases of diabetes in the U.S. fell for the fifth year in a row in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control, but the U.S. still has the highest prevalence of diabetes among developed nations with 11 percent. Only 5 percent of people in the United Kingdom have the condition. In 1980 there were 493,000 cases of diabetes in the U.S. That number rapidly increased until 2008 when it peaked at 1.7 million, but it’s been decreasing ever since. Currently, there are about 1.4 million adults living with diabetes. Researchers aren’t sure why the numbers have been falling since 2008. Some studies have shown that Americans are eating healthier and drinking less sugary beverages than in the past, which could be a reason. We also know more about diabetes than we did 30 years ago.
For More Information, Contact:
Media Relations, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore
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