Most people are familiar with type-2 diabetes—the disease characterized by the body not processing sugars (glucose) effectively into energy. But many are not aware of the precursor to diabetes called prediabetes, the condition in which a person has elevated blood sugar levels that puts them on track to develop diabetes. Eighty-six million people in the United States are currently living with prediabetes and 9 out of 10 people with prediabetes do not even know it.
Ignorance is certainly not bliss when it comes to prediabetes. It is estimated that 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type-2 diabetes in five years; 70% will have diabetes later in their lives. In San Diego, NEARLY HALF of adult San Diegans are on the path to diabetes. Complications of diabetes are serious and can include a variety of problems such as eye, kidney, nerve and foot disorders. Diabetics are also at a higher risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Men especially need to heed the warning. Currently the prevalence of type-2 diabetes is 13% higher in men than women in California. And, amputation rates from diabetes-related problems are 1.4 to 2.7 times higher in men than women with diabetes. Older adults also face a higher risk. Twenty-five percent of Americans over age 60 are living with diabetes. The disease can decrease longevity and increase the risk of institutionalization for older adults.
The good news is that for those who currently have prediabetes, changes in diet and exercise have been shown to delay or even prevent the onset of diabetes, no matter what your age.
Steps you can take to improve your overall health and reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes include:
To see if you might be at risk for diabetes, visit: www.diabetes.org and take the “Are You at Risk?” assessment. Be sure to visit your doctor if you are concerned that you may be at risk for diabetes or have any questions about your health.
The County's Aging & Independence Services is helping to support older adults who are on the path to diabetes make positive changes to prevent developing the disease through the Sweet Victory program. They also offer several programs to help those who are living with diabetes to manage the disease and live a healthy life. To find out more about these effective, no-cost programs, visit www.preventdiabetesSD.org and www.healthierlivingSD.org.