Health

The Test You Must Never Ignore

New online assessment could help you avoid major health problems

In response, the American Diabetes Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Medical Association have just launched DoIHavePrediabetes.org. The Ad Council campaign aims to raise awareness of prediabetes risk.

With 1 in every 3 adults affected, prediabetes is no laughing matter, and finding better ways to identify and treat this growing population has become high priority on the medical community’s radar.

“This is not a ho-hum issue,” Hope Warshaw, CDE, RD, and the 2016 president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, told LifeZette. “An early diagnosis of prediabetes offers people the opportunity to take immediate action and put the brakes on the progression of disease.”

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The odds appear to be stacked against us, with “nearly 50 percent of adults living in the U.S.” having diabetes or prediabetes, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Both the physical and financial costs of diabetes are massive. With 1 in every 5 health care dollars spent on diabetes, it’s carrying a $322 billion per year price tag, the American Diabetes Association reports.

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Diabetes has escalated into a public health crisis, although, as a nurse, it’s clear to me that too many people are falling through the cracks, and the public remains confused.

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Every day people give only vague responses when asked if they have prediabetes or diabetes. Many remain in a state of limbo — confused about what they have. The name “prediabetes” sits as a suggestion with patients, rather than a diagnosis.

“Without clinical support and education, prediabetes may unfortunately just function as a scare word,” said Douglas Michael Massing, a diabetes patient and advocate from Rockville, Connecticut.

“We need to be careful not to blame and shame people (in the process of education). Making the lifestyle changes to lose weight, eat healthier and be physically active requires hard and ongoing effort and perseverance,” said Warshaw.

People need encouragement to enroll, and stay enrolled, in programs to get the support that the research shows they need.

Intensive lifestyle changes have continued over the years to be most successful at delaying Type 2 diabetes — not medications, Warshaw told LifeZette.

[lz_bulleted_list title=”Risk Factors for Diabetes” source=”The American Diabetes Association”]Inactivity|Having a first-degree relative with diabetes|Being a member of an ethnic group|Having a baby 9 pounds or larger|Having a history of diabetes during pregnancy|Having high blood pressure/cholesterol|Having polycystic ovarian syndrome|Being insulin resistant|Having cardiovascular disease|Having abnormal glucose tests[/lz_bulleted_list]

Several studies conducted around the globe, including by the Diabetes Prevention Program in the U.S., have concluded that “people can prevent or, as is more often the case, delay (slow) the progression of prediabetes to Type 2 diabetes.”

The secret sauce identified in the DPP? That includes a “slow and steady weight loss with a focus on changing one’s eating habits paired with an increase in physical activity.”

Sadly, kids aren’t off the hook. If a child is overweight or obese, and has two or more risk factors for diabetes, that child should be tested as well. And contrary to popular belief, not everyone with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese. Genetics play a role as well.

Should you take the test? Some questions worth asking yourself:

  • Are you overweight or obese (with one or more of the risk factors)? Get tested.
  • Are you over the age of 45? Get tested.
  • Do you have a history of elevated blood sugars? Test yearly.
  • If testing is normal — repeat every three years.

Richard Vienne, vice president and chief medical officer for Univera Healthcare in western New York, wrote an op-ed this week for the Buffalo News on the issue. In the article, he encouraged everyone to go to DoIHavePrediabetes.org and take the test.

“With one in five U.S. health care dollars spent to provide care for individuals with diabetes, this important online tool can help people with prediabetes know where they stand and the actions they can take to help prevent (Type) 2 diabetes,” he wrote.

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