Womens Health

Am I at Risk of Developing Diabetes?

Currently, more than 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes mellitus, which is known more commonly as diabetes. Diabetes is a condition in which a person’s body has difficulty converting food (glucose) into energy, which is carried through the bloodstream into cells of the body after a meal. The cells need a hormone called insulin to help in this transition.

For those affected by diabetes, this is where the problem lies. People with type 1 diabetes do not produce any insulin at all, while people with type 2 diabetes have a decreased sensitivity to the hormone, causing the glucose to sit in the bloodstream, leaving the cells starved for energy. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to a series of health complications including damaged nerves and blood vessels, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

To aid in diabetes prevention, people need to be aware of their risks of developing diabetes. By being aware of your own risk factors for developing diabetes, you can learn to take control of your health and prevent the onset of the disease.

What Puts Me at Risk?

The following are risk factors for developing diabetes. Check as many boxes as applies to you.

I am overweight.

I lead a fairly inactive lifestyle (exercise fewer than 3 times per week).

I have a poor diet (i.e. I eat a lot of fast food).

Someone in my immediate family (parent or sibling) has diabetes.

I am 45 years of age or older.

I am of Native American, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islander descent.

I have had gestational diabetes, or have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.

My blood pressure is 140/90mm Hg or higher.

I have high cholesterol.

I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

I have been diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance.

I have a medical history that includes cardiovascular disease.

The more boxes you checked, the greater your risk of developing diabetes.

Anyone who is over the age of 45 should have their blood glucose levels checked every three years. If you are at higher risk of developing this condition, however, testing should begin even earlier.

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