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Screening 'Test' Gauges Diabetes Risk

Questionnaire Looks at Age, Gender, Weight, and Lifestyle
By
WebMD Health News

Nov. 30, 2009 -- Are you overweight? Do you exercise? Do you have high blood pressure or relatives who have diabetes? Are you male or female?

Researchers have developed a simple, six-question screening test designed to help you determine whether you might be one of many millions of Americans who have diabetes or prediabetes but don't know it.

The questionnaire is published in the Dec. 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. It asks about your age, gender, health history, and lifestyle and then assigns points based on your answers. The total score (out of a possible maximum of 10) determines your risk of having diabetes.

There's no complex math involved, and your honest answers could save or prolong your life or help you head off serious problems caused by the disease. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to complete it, and there are online tools to help if you need them.

Here are some questions from the test, and an explanation of the scoring:

  • How old are you? There are four categories: less than 40, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, and 60 or older. For example, if you're less than 40, your score is zero, but if you're 60 or older, you get a 3.
  • Are you a woman or a man? If you're a female, give yourself another zero, but if you're a male, put yourself down for 1 point. Men are more likely than women to develop diabetes.
  • Do your family members (parents or siblings) have diabetes? If so, give yourself 1 point.
  • Do you have high blood pressure or are you on medication for high blood pressure? If so, give yourself 1 point.
  • Are you overweight or obese? If your body mass index (BMI) is under 25, you're OK, so just jot down a zero. If the number is 25.9 to 30, you're overweight, so give yourself 1 point. If it's over 30, you're obese, so jot down 3 points.
  • Are you physically active? If your answer is no, give yourself a zero, but if it's yes, subtract 1 point from the total.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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