Monday, March 26, 2007

Can Diabetes be Prevented?

Diabetes is a devastating disease. Anyone who has a family member with diabetes will understand this. It takes a downward course and patients will need to keep increasing their medications as the get older. For some it might get so bad that they need to inject themselves with insulin daily. Uncontrolled diabetes will also lead to a host of other problems like heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and numbness and poor circulation in the legs which may eventually lead to an amputation.

The good news is that Diabetes can be preventable if spotted early. So the question is, how do I know if I am at risk of diabetes and how do I prevent it?

You are a candidate for Diabetes if you:
1. Are overweight ie your BMI is more than 25kg/m2 BMI = Weight in kg/(Height in m)(Height in m)
2. Have high blood pressure (>140/90mmHg)
3. Have a first degree relative with diabetes
4. Had diabetes during pregnancy
5. Have polycystic ovary disease
6. Have heart disease
7. Have Cholesterol problems
8. Have Impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
Now the important thing I want to look at today is the last point. IFG and IGT are conditions recognized as prediabetic conditions. That is to say, people with such conditions will go on to develop diabetes if nothing is done. IFG is defined has having a fasting blood glucose level of 6.1 to 7.0 mmol/l. Diabetes is defined as having a fasting blood glucose level greater than 7.0 mmol/l. So if you have done a screening test and the test results come back and you are told you have no diabetes, it means that your fasting glucose levels are below 7 mmol/l. BUT unless the results are explained to you by your doctor, you might have a level between 6.1-7.0 mmol/l which would be overlooked.

Why is IFG and IGT important?

There have been several studies that show that early intervention in people with IFG and IGT can prevent the development of diabetes! So there is a certain group of people out there in whom diabetes can be prevented but they still may not know about it!

So what do you do?

1. If you are above 40 years of age, then you should at least know your fasting glucose levels. It is easily checked by visiting your family doctor.

2. If you have any of the risk factors above, you should check your blood glucose level at least yearly to make sure that you spot the early signs of diabetes.

3. If you have already done a screening test, see if the fasting glucose levels are in the range of 6.1-7.0 mmol/l. If it is than go visit your family doctor immediately to get it properly assessed. You might just prevent yourself from developing Diabetes and a whole lifetime of medications and complications by doing so!

For more information on Diabetes Mellitus, please click here

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