November Is Diabetes Awareness Month

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As common as diabetes is (over 1.25 million Americans suffer from type 1 alone in the United States), there is currently no cure. Nearly everyone knows someone who has diabetes. The theme for the 2018 American Diabetes Month to promote awareness is “Everyday reality.” One upside of diabetes is that while there is no cure, it can be effectively managed. One of the downsides is, this management can be tiresome and complicated, and this is the everyday reality that every person with diabetes faces. Read on to learn about the basic facts about diabetes, if you should be concerned, and how heart screenings can help in more ways than one.

Three Different Types

There are three distinct types of diabetes, and for those that don’t know much about the disease, discerning between the three is essential because it is very possible to develop diabetes as you grow older.

Type 1 diabetes is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes, in part because this condition commonly develops at birth or during childhood, although it is possible to have onset of Type 1 at any age. Researchers think that this type of diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder. Type 1 diabetes can be effectively managed, and children and teenagers need quite a bit of support from parents and caregivers to help take care of themselves and their diabetes.

Type 2 is slightly different. While the exact cause is unknown, there are lifestyle factors that can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, which manifests as insulin resistance. Over time, your body simply stops using insulin properly. To avoid the development of type 2 diabetes, patients are urged to keep a healthy weight and exercise often. Other factors may also contribute, like smoking and alcohol intake.

Gestational diabetes is a non-permanent type of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women. For unknown reasons, some women have more insulin-blocking hormones during pregnancy than others, which causes a “temporary” diabetes. Like type 1 and type 2, it is easily managed.

The treatments for the three types differ. Type 1 is mainly treated with daily insulin injections, while type 2 and gestational diabetes can be effectively managed with proper diet and exercise. Sometimes, patients take medication to control type 2 diabetes as well. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes are often offered a fairly restrictive diet, which only lasts throughout the pregnancy.

Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

Those who have type 1 diabetes are unable to prevent it, as it is present from birth or early childhood. However, type 2 diabetes is preventable in many cases. Perhaps your doctor has informed you that you are “prediabetic,” but you are not quite sure what that means. A patient with prediabetes has a blood glucose level that is higher than average but has not developed type 2 diabetes yet. If you suspect that you may be prediabetic, or your physician has informed you thus, there is no better time than the present to start a healthy diet and an exercise regimen. Patients in the prediabetic stage who are able to change unhealthy habits are in a position to prevent type 2 diabetes from occuring.

When it comes to diet, patients should avoid foods with high triglycerides and foods high in cholesterol. Heavy, processed foods and sugary, fatty foods may also contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Keeping your weight and body mass index (BMI) within healthy ranges is most recommended. Patients should also avoid heavy alcohol intake and quit smoking.

The Relationship with Heart Health

Diabetes and heart health are closely linked. In fact, high glucose over time can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of both stroke and heart attack. Diabetes can be managed well with proper care, but without care, heart attack and stroke are the leading causes of death in adults with diabetes.

Heart screenings are especially important. Even if you’re feeling okay, a quick heart screening not only checks your heart and high blood pressure, it can help shed light on whether you’re at risk for other problems–like diabetes. A simple heart screening usually includes a BMI assessment, high blood pressure screening, complete lipid panel screening, a glucose screening, and an electrocardiogram (ECG). More advanced screenings offer tests such as cardiac ultrasound. It’s important for adults to have a heart screening at least once a year, not only to check their heart health but to look for other problems. A heart screening can also tell you if you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, especially because of the BMI assessment and glucose test. To learn more about the management of diabetes, or to schedule a yearly heart screening, book an appointment at TrustCare Heart Clinic today. A quick heart screening takes only a few minutes and can give you peace of mind not only about your heart health but diabetes as well.

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