Aggressive Management of “Pre-Diabetes” Can Reduce Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke & Kidney Damage
Houston (June 11, 2002) – “There’s no such thing as a little diabetes,” says Nicholas J. Solomos, M.D., a board certified family practice physician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “If your blood sugar is a little high, you should take aggressive action to manage that blood sugar. It’s a red flag that can lead to full-blown diabetes and a much higher risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney damage and other diabetic complications.”
“Pre-diabetes” is a relatively new term for impaired glucose tolerance – a condition that is on the increase in America due to expanding waistlines and sedentary lifestyles. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 17 million Americans are currently at risk for developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years, and as many as one-half don’t know it.
Type 1 diabetes is often referred to as “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin-dependent” diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a combination of insulin deficiency and insulin resistance. It was once believed to be an illness of adulthood, but it is affecting younger and younger people.
Lifestyle Modifications Can Make a Big Difference
New research is showing that some simple lifestyle modifications can help reduce the risk of some of the serious complications of diabetes. These include damage to blood vessels in the eye that can lead to blindness, the buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) that can lead to stroke and limb loss, and damage to the kidneys that can result in kidney failure.
“A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2002 showed that lifestyle intervention was particularly effective in delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance,” Dr. Solomos explained. The doctor noted that one case of diabetes was prevented per seven persons treated during the three years of the study. “These were not major changes – just a low fat diet, weight loss, and regular exercise,” the doctor explained.
Understanding the Risk Factors
Most people with pre-diabetes will likely develop diabetes, yet the condition is difficult to diagnose because it is relatively symptom-free. That’s why it is important to know the risk factors and to get screened at regular intervals.
Known pre-diabetes risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese.
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle.
- Having a family history of diabetes.
- Having a history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
- Having high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure.
- Belonging to one of the following ethnic groups: African American, Native American, Hispanic American, or Asian American/Pacific Islander.
New Screening Guidelines
Because pre-diabetes puts people at a much higher risk for heart disease, stroke and other diseases, the American Diabetes Association now recommends routine screenings for high risk patients, beginning at age 45. A person with a fasting glucose level of greater than 125 is considered to have type 2 diabetes. Previously, the benchmark was a fasting glucose level of greater than 140.
The American College of Endocrinology takes a more vigorous approach, urging routine screenings for high-risk individuals beginning at age 30. “In my own practice, I’m seeing younger and younger patients with type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Solomos explained. “I’m also seeing more and more people with pre-diabetic blood sugar levels of 110-125. This has coincided with a higher incidence of obesity. Pre-diabetes must be aggressively managed with a low-fat diet, weight loss, and regular exercise program when we can reduce the risk of developing some of the serious complications,” the doctor stressed.
Pre-Diabetes Management Course
To learn more about pre-diabetes and how to manage it, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic offers an American Diabetes Association-recognized diabetes self-management course each month at two of its Houston-area campuses. For information, call certified diabetes educator Laurie Dell’Aquila, RN at 713-442-0345.
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