Type 2 diabetes has struck such a large proportion of our population – and spread so fast – that it has been called an epidemic. On its own, diabetes ranks as the seventh-most common cause of death in the U.S. It strains the heart, kidneys, and every organ of the body, and diabetes can shut down everything from your eyes to your legs with the strain it puts on the body’s circulatory system. It leads to some sad ends, sometimes under its own name, and sometimes under an alias. It makes people twice as likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack.
Altogether, about a third of the people in the nation are afflicted with diabetes or are in imminent danger of developing it. More than 20 million Americans have it, and the proportion reached more than 10% today from just 1% in 1958. About a fourth of Americans over age 65 suffer from it, which is more than 11 million people. Most people who suffer from diabetes are not even aware of it, and the elevated blood sugar level known as prediabetes includes nearly 90 million more Americans.
If 3.4 million people around the world died every year from an armed conflict, we’d probably call it a world war. No single national security risk is as deadly as diabetes, and it costs about a quarter of a trillion dollars a year in medical expenses and lost productivity. Yet, because it’s a silent disease that often progresses for years before showing symptoms, we cruise along instead, needing a month of observance to remind us of this serious threat.
Attacking Even the Young
Diabetes strikes Americans at an ever-younger age, and so the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has become a leading proponent and resource for research into the disease and its cure. Because Type 2 diabetes is the most widespread form of the disease – and the one most related to diet and lifestyle – Type 2 gets a lot of attention, and rightly so. Yet some the contributions toward knowledge that the JDRF has made concern Type 1 diabetes, the kind that might be seen as even more chronic and destructive.
Type 1 diabetes has less to do with diet and lifestyle, although they are part of managing the condition. Type 1, in fact, is a malfunction of the body’s own auto-immune system. In Type 1 diabetes, the body destroys beta cells, which are the cells that create insulin. Research funded in part by JDRF has led to therapies such as Beta Cell Replacement and Beta Cell Regeneration. The second avenue in which their help is felt is in immunotherapy, helping prevent the body from attacking its beta cells in the first place.
For Your Family the Key is Awareness
Your family physician can test for diabetes or signs of prediabetes. Of the three main kinds of test, the one used most frequently, the FPG, measures fasting plasma glucose – the level of blood sugar after eight hours of fasting. It’s a blood test usually taken first thing in the morning, and a normal level is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (100 mg/dl).
Prediabetes is considered a blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/dl, and diabetes is indicated by blood glucose of 126 mg/dl or higher. Depending on your score, your family physician can point to steps you can take to reduce your score or lower your risk.
To put awareness on your side, get tested now and find out what you can do to reduce the risk of diabetes for you and your family. Just call us at 843-815-6468.