More than one-third of Georgians at risk of diabetes

Take Measures to Prevent Prediabetes and Diabetes

Ask any primary care physician associated with Piedmont Healthcare and they will tell you that one medical condition they see far too often is diabetes.

In the United States, more than 30 million adults have diabetes and another 84 million have prediabetes. In Georgia, almost 34 percent of the adult population has prediabetes, and 12 percent — or nearly 1 million people – have been diagnosed with diabetes. Those numbers are made even more alarming when you consider this: According to the American Diabetes Association, two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

“It is important for people to be aware of their personal risk factors for diabetes,” said Julia Economos, M.D., a physician with Piedmont Physicians of Brookhaven. “They should also know that making lifestyle changes can reduce risk factors and lead to better outcomes.”

Diabetes is a group of diseases or conditions where there is too much sugar in the blood. Prediabetes means a person’s blood sugar is higher than the normal range (70 to 100), but still below the diabetic range (126 and higher). A fasting blood glucose level of 100 to 125 indicates prediabetes. Diabetics have a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood glucose levels. The more sensitive your body is to insulin, the better it is able to regulate blood glucose.

“It is important to maintain annual physicals and keep an eye on blood sugar levels, particularly for people as they age,’ said Dr. Economos. “People should also be aware of symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which can include excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.”

The incidence of Type 2 diabetes, and other associated diseases, can be reduced by making the following lifestyle changes:

Eat healthier: Food affects blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. It is important to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, drink water instead of soda and choose food that is low in sugar, salt, calories and fat.

Improve fitness: Everyone should strive to be active for at least 30 minutes a day. You do not have to go to the gym either. Walking around the block or doing yard work counts as physical activity, too.

Stop smoking: Your doctor can guide you to many different cessation programs and you will see your health improve in many different ways.

Plan medication: When prescribed medication related to diabetes, blood pressure or cholesterol, it is important to take the medication as directed by your doctor.

“According to the CDC, 80 percent of adults with prediabetes don’t even realize they have it,” said Dr. Economos. “Without taking any action, many of those cases will become Type 2 diabetes. People need to see their physicians, get screened, and make the lifestyle changes that will keep them healthy for years to come.”

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