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Type 2 Diabetes – Know Your Risk

Written by Courteney

Posted on July 16, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Type 2 diabetes is all-too common these days. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than 24 million Americans are afflicted with diabetes, but approximately 6 million are currently undiagnosed. Furthermore, over 57 million adults have prediabetes. Diabetes accounts for over 70,000 deaths annually, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the country.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes results when the immune system goes on the fritz and attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, this type is typically inherited and present at an early age. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body stops producing enough insulin to sustain it, or the body can’t use the insulin the pancreas does produce (insulin resistance). This happens over time when the body slowly stops responding to insulin signals, so insulin production rises and rises, in turn the blood-sugar levels also dangerously rise.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

While many people may have a genetic predisposition to disease, up to 90% of cases are preventable by keeping a healthy weight, not smoking or drinking too much, eating healthy and exercising regularly. Most often the gradual resistance to insulin that results in diabetes is caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet, inactivity, and smoking.

Complications of Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to death by diabetic comas for those who do not have their disease under control. Diabetes is also the number one cause of kidney failure as well as a key contributor to blindness among American adults. It can also lead to nerve damage or even limb loss. Diabetes often goes hand-in-hand with cardiovascular disease as well, as both conditions are exacerbated by high blood pressure.

Other Risk Factors

According to the CDC, aside from diet, activity level and smoking, other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Age: People over 45 years of age are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Genetics: Having a close family member with the disease drastically increases your odds.
  • Ethnicity: People of African American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic American or Asian American are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Having had gestational diabetes or having given birth to a baby weighting over 9 pounds.

Risk Factors Do Not Necessarily Seal Your Fate

Certainly some of these risk factors cannot be avoided such as age, ethnicity or genetics, but most cases are still preventable because even if non-modifiable risk factors are present, diabetes is still highly dependant on lifestyle. Therefor, you may have the ability to avoid the disease if you take extra lifestyle precautions knowing you are at higher risk. You can calculate your general risk of developing type 2 diabetes here to see just how seriously you should be taking the threat.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is more of a warning sign than a guarantee of developing diabetes. Most times it is still reversible, but by the time blood-sugars rise uncontrollably and turn into full-blown diabetes, it is no longer reversible. Prediabetes is a category of people who have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but don’t quite have levels that fall within the diabetic range. It is also sometimes referred to as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Prediabetes puts you at higher risk of developing both diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so it is important to take immediate action to control your health if you are diagnosed with prediabetes.

Check back for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention tips next! Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions or concerns about diabetes, feel free to sign up for a video conference with one of our board certified physicians!



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