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Diabetes Prevention Program

Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes continued...

Most people with type 2 diabetes have two problems: The pancreas may produce too much insulin that your body cannot efficiently use. Later in the disease, the pancreas may not produce enough insulin; therefore fat, muscle, and liver cells are deprived of insulin and unable to access the glucose needed to function as the glucose remains in the bloodstream. This means that sugar builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body -- without fulfilling its role as the body's main source of fuel. Both too much insulin and too much glucose in the blood (instead of in the cells where needed), can damage blood vessels and tissues.

About 23.6 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Ninety-percent to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This is a lifestyle disease and can be prevented. Diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputation, and new-onset blindness in American adults. People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to develop heart disease.

Prediabetes, also called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), is a condition in which your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you are also at increased risk for developing heart disease.

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if:

  • You are overweight
  • You are 45 years old or older
  • You have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Your family background is African-American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic American/Latino, or Pacific Islander
  • You have had gestational diabetes or gave birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or you have been told that you have high blood pressure
  • Your HDL -- or "good" -- cholesterol is 35 or lower, or your triglyceride level is 250 or higher
  • You are fairly inactive, or you exercise fewer than three times a week

It's estimated that 57 million American adults older than age 20 have IFG, suggesting that at least 57 million adults have prediabetes. Those with prediabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they take steps to prevent or delay diabetes. The results of the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that modest weight loss and regular exercise could prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

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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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