There can be no denying that the need for diabetes screening is essential. It is estimated that 6% of Americans have diabetes, yet only one third know they have the disease. This means that more than 5 million have diabetes and don’t know it – these people are literally walking time bombs.
If we consider that this terrible disease is the seventh leading casue of death in the USA, then testing seems such an obvious thing to do. Let us now look at who should be screened, and when.
Diabetes Screening: Who & When?
Most methods commonly used for detecting diabetes require that no calories have been consumed for at least 8 hours. This is called Fasting Plasma Glucose and is generaly carried out on the following persons
Testing for diabetes should be done in everybody 45 years or older, and repeated every three years
Testing should also be done at a younger age in people presenting with the following problems or risks. Naturally, the more of the following risks a person has, the more necessary screening becomes:
Overweight or obesity
Has a direct family member with diagnosed diabetes
Are members of a high risk ethnic groups (African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-American, Asian-American, Pacific Islander)
Has given birth to a baby weighing 9 Ib or more or diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
Has been diagnosed as being hypertensive (continually high blood pressure)
Has a “good” HDL cholesterol level of 35 mg/dl or less, or triglyceride levels of 250 mg/dl or more
On a previous medical visit had either Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG)
Leads a sedentary lifestyle and very rarely undertakes physical activity
Has Polycystic overy syndrome
Often people with diabetes have more than one of the above, in fact high blood pressure, obesity and irregular cholesterol levels are often found in diabetics. However, unfortunately until the manifestation of complications, diabetes is asymptomatic, meaning it has no real symptoms to talk of, therefore screening for diabetes is the only real way to understand if the disease is present.
There is no doubt, and it has been scientifically proven that when people with diabetes control and monitor their blood glucose, blood pressure and weight, keep tight control of cholesterol levels, participate in frequent exercise, and quit the habit of smoking the risk of potentially fatal comlications can be greatly reduced. Moreover, with a healthy lifestyle diabetes can be totally controlled in many people.
Therefore diabetes screening is obviously an important factor in conquering this disease.
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