The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that of the nearly 24 million people in the United States living with diabetes, almost one in four is unaware they have the disease.
"Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, and people with diabetes are also up to four times more likely to have stroke or heart disease—two of the top three leading causes of death. With odds like that, it's important to be informed," says Shawn Peavie, DO, endocrinologist with The Christ Hospital Physicians.
In adults, Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of cases. In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce or process enough insulin to carry sugar from the blood into the cells, resulting in cells starved for energy and unhealthy blood sugar levels that may damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
"One study showed that simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of contracting diabetes up to 58 percent in adults, but the first step is in determining if you are at risk," Dr. Peavie says.
Here are some common risk factors of diabetes:
- People over the age of 45 have a greater risk of developing diabetes. Nearly 11 percent of people age 20 and older have diabetes, but the number more than doubles by the age of 60.
- Men are at a slightly higher risk than women are—11 percent versus 10 percent.
- The elderly, African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders are at greater risk for diabetes than other groups.
- According to a study by the CDC, family history increases risk, and those with a parent or sibling with the disease are five times more likely to develop diabetes.
- Women who had high blood sugar levels during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or who gave birth to a baby weighing more than none pounds are at risk.
- Being overweight, especially with a body mass index of 25 or above, increases the risk.
Learn about diabetes and endocrine services at The Christ Hospital.