It isn’t too late to practice prevention.
In North Carolina alone, an estimated 750,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes. An additional 280,000 may have diabetes but are undiagnosed. Already one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States; the truly alarming fact is that diabetes is the fastest growing disease in the world today.
As daunting as the numbers are, diabetes is also a chronic disease that can often be prevented, delayed, or managed successfully, through lifestyle choices. It’s important to know the risk factors, and understand which ones can and can not be affected by our day to day choices.
The chances for developing diabetes increase as we age, are higher when we have a parent or sibling with diabetes, and are higher for African-Americans and Hispanics. Other risk factors we can influence include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.
If you do not have diabetes, it’s important to know your personal risk factors and make changes where you can. If you’re one of the 2.5 million people in North Carolina that has been told you have prediabetes, it’s critical to make those changes now. Without change, 25-30% of those with prediabetes will be diagnosed with Type II diabetes within five years.
If you do have diabetes, these same lifestyle changes can often prevent complications or greatly delay their onset.
Serious complications can include, chronic kidney disease, heart attack/stroke, vision loss, hearing loss, erectile dysfunction, low birth weight, sleep apnea and nerve damage resulting in amputation.
What can you do?
- maintain a healthy weight
- eat a nutritious diet
- increase physical activity
- If you smoke, commit to quit
- follow your health providers recommendations to maintain a healthy blood glucose level and normal cholesterol
- maintain normal blood pressure
- enroll in a diabetes self-management class for information and support
- participate in your church health ministry and if you don’t have one, start one!
Faith leaders who want to help their congregants handle diabetes, can download the Faith Leaders Toolkit: Diabetes Prevention and Management;
- World Diabetes Day: Promote the Blue Circle
- Visit Diabetes Free NC to learn about a proven lifestyle change program can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes
- Learn how you can help increase awareness about diabetes from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: November: American Diabetes Month
- The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Health Information Center at the National Institutes of Health gives 4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life
The American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org