Are you at Risk to have Diabetes?
November is diabetes awareness month. About 11 million people in Canada live with diabetes or pre-diabetes. You may be a person living with diabetes, have a family member, co-worker or a friend living with diabetes. It is estimated that 1 in 3 Canadians already have diabetes or pre-diabetes & many do not know it.
Diabetes is a disease where your body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin produced. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control the amount of sugar (glucose) in the body.
Pre-diabetes refers to blood sugar (glucose) levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed by a doctor as diabetes. About 50% of people living with pre-diabetes will progress to have Type 2 Diabetes.
Over time, a person living with high blood sugar levels, complications can occur like chronic kidney disease, heart disease which can cause heart attacks or stroke, reduced blood supply to the limbs causing nerve damage, foot problems, lower limb (leg, foot, toe) amputation, eye disease (retinopathy) that can lead to blindness, and erectile dysfunction in men.
So Are You at Risk to developing Type 2 diabetes? (90 % of people living with diabetics are diagnosed Type 2 diabetics)
Anyone over the age of 40 should be tested for diabetes every three years. Anyone who has one or more risk factors should be tested more frequently. Risk factors are:
Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes;
Being a member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian, or African descent);
Having health complications that are associated with diabetes;
Having given birth to a baby that weighed more than four kilograms (nine pounds) at birth or having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy);
Having been diagnosed with pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose);
Having high blood pressure;
Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood;
Being overweight, especially if that weight is mostly carried around the tummy;
Having been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome;
Having been diagnosed with Acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin);
Having been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder;
Having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea;
Having been prescribed a glucocorticoid medication by a doctor. (1)
The Canadian Diabetes Association website (diabetes.ca) contains a Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire CANRISK which can be printed or downloaded to help you find out if you are a higher risk for having pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. This is not a clinical diagnosis but is an opportunity to you to determine your level of risk.
Don’t ignore these risk factors. Some risk factors you cannot change but some risk factors like weight, level of physical activity, smoking, food choices & portions sizes can benefit from lifestyle changes. Have the discussion with your doctor to be tested if applicable. The earlier you are diagnosed, you and your health care team can place into action diabetes care to prevent long term complications of diabetes.
Ref: (1) Canadian Diabetes Association Guidelines