Prime Time Living - Page 20 - Big D from page 4

Prime Time Living
- Page 20
Big D from page 4
regularly and take steps to ensure you are not at risk: maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and quit smoking. Your ratios of “good” (HDL) to “bad” (LDL) cholesterol can be a factor, as well as high blood pressure.

It’s more complex than that. Certain ethnic groups have a higher risk of getting diabetes. These include African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and Native Hawaiians.

Another way to assess your predisposition for diabetes is to check your Body Mass Index (calculators are available online or for Android and iPhone) and to take a Diabetes Risk Test.

Diagnoses

Everyone over the age of 45 (earlier if you are overweight or obese) should be checked for diabetes. The earlier you are tested, the sooner you can take action to either stave it off or prevent it. Two standard tests exist: A fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) and the A1C test. The first requires fasting for at least eight hours; the second can be done at any time.

When your physician runs blood tests, pay specific attention to your A1C test. It will show your average blood glucose levels over the past three months. This test is also used by those who have diabetes to determine the amount of medication or insulin they need on a daily basis.

A third blood test is used when you show symptoms and your health care professional wants a more immediate answer.

The RPG test – random plasma glucose – can be administered at any time.

There is a fourth test used, the OGTT – oral glucose tolerance test – but it is usually for pregnant women who may have gestational diabetes. It also available to diagnose Type 2 and pre-diabetes in those not pregnant, but it’s not as easy to administer and is more costly. You have to fast and then drink glucose, after which blood is drawn every hour over a period of two hours.

Ones who have to pay special attention to their risk are those of African-American, Mediterranean or Southeast Asia descent. In addition, they will probably need supplemental testing as the A1C can show false results, either too high or too low. See the chart below to show what results indicate for the above-mentioned tests.

Pre-diabetes

Also called borderline diabetes, it indicates you are at a greater risk to develop Type 2, but there are actions you can take as well as medications that will help you prevent it. Given the ramifications inherent in having diabetes, these modifications will help a lot.

First, get to a weight appropriate for your height and keep it off. Aim to lose five to seven percent of your current weight. Next, increase the amount of exercise you get. Most professionals recommend 30 minutes of activity a day. You don’t have to join a gym or invest in lots of equipment. Just start walking. Last, improve your diet by eating smaller portions and following the recommendations for adding more fruits and vegetables.

Drink water instead of sweetened beverages and reduce your total calorie intake. Involve your family and friends because taking these actions will mean a change in your lifestyle – not always easily accomplished.

But you’re better off doing it before you have diabetes than after you have a diagnosis. Then you’ll have to monitor everything you ingest plus adding medications to ensure your glucose levels stay optimum.

Life After Diagnosis

Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, you are assessed for how much assistance you need for your body to make the right amount of insulin. In the 1980s, there were only a couple of options available, one main class of medications and insulin. Insulin was either injected or taken orally. Today, there are 10 different classes of medications, with each class having one or more options along with newer versions of insulin. Your health care team will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.

New programs, new medications, ongoing research and access to a lot of assistance will make living with diabetes possible. Each person is different as is what will work for them. Your health care team may include an endocrinologist, a nutritionist, a lifestyle coach and others who will help you to the best of their ability. Most importantly, know going in that they will do everything they can to keep you healthy and well. It’s up to you, and it can be done. •