Sometimes even a good diet and a healthy exercise program just can’t combat the power of genetics.
As Ray Santiago of Long Island, N.Y., found out, type 2 diabetes can strike anyone.
Santiago maintained a healthy weight and diet, but started experiencing the need to urinate more frequently at night when he turned 40. Since he had a family history of diabetes, he decided to get checked out by a doctor, even though he didn’t feel sick.
“When I was first diagnosed, I went through a period of depression, anxiety and denial,” he says. Santiago wants others to be aware of how important family history can be.
Nearly 26 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes, and an additional 79 million American adults have prediabetes – which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. It often affects people who are overweight, underactive and older than 45. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and people who have a family history of the disease – like Santiago – also are at an increased risk.
Santiago attempted losing more weight and changing his diet with healthy eating, but struggled with his blood glucose (sugar) levels. Finally, he switched to an insulin program, which – when combined with an aggressive exercise regime – allowed him to keep his average blood glucose in the normal range.
Type 2 diabetes can cause serious consequences if not managed properly, including: heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, or delayed, by losing seven percent (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) of body weight through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating.
Getting diagnosed is the first step toward controlling the disease, and for many people, diagnosis may come seven to 10 years after the onset of the disease. The American Diabetes Association Alert Day is a one day “wake-up” call to find those at risk for developing type 2 diabetes by encouraging the public to take the Diabetes Risk Test. This year, Diabetes Alert Day marks the beginning of the “Join the Million Challenge,” which runs through April 22, and the association will be rallying 1 million people to join in and take the Diabetes Risk Test. This test shows users whether they are at low, moderate or high risk for type 2 diabetes. If an individual is at high risk, he or she is encouraged to talk with their health care provider.
For more information and to take the free Diabetes Risk Test, visit stopdiabetes.com, call (800) DIABETES (800-342-2383) or text JOIN to 69866 (Standard data and message rates apply).