As the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes affects
more than 25 million children and adults and plays a major role in heart
disease and stroke. People who think they might be at risk for diabetes
should visit a physician for diagnosis. Common symptoms include frequent
urination, intense thirst, feeling hungry even though you have eaten,
extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
and tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet. Women with gestational
diabetes often have no symptoms.
The different forms of diabetes include:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It causes
the body to stop insulin production, which means that the body cannot
convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Only five percent
of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
Normally, the body breaks down food into glucose - the fuel for cells -
and insulin carries that glucose throughout the body. Type 2 diabetes,
the most common form of the disease, causes the body to misuse insulin.
At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to compensate for the misuse,
but over time, the pancreas struggles to keep up and can’t make
enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels.
Women may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Hormones involved
in supporting the baby can sometimes cause high blood glucose levels in
the mother. Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can cause
the mother’s high blood glucose levels to pass to the baby. The
baby’s pancreas then makes extra insulin to get rid of the blood
glucose, producing more energy than it needs.
You can prevent or delay the onset of these types of diabetes through a
healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy helps lower the risk and staying active
helps to manage blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Most diabetes treatments focus on healthy eating and exercise, along with
oral medication and/or insulin to help meet target blood glucose levels.
Diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning that even if you don’t
have to take medication or insulin at first, you may need to over time.
High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Stroke
High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can lead to stroke and
other cardiovascular diseases. Both conditions are considered “silent
killers” because they typically have no warning signs or symptoms.
However, by taking the proper steps, blood pressure and high cholesterol
can be prevented and reduced.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the inner walls of arteries.
High blood pressure can damage these delicate vessels, causing them to
burst or clog more easily - resulting in a stroke or other life-threatening disease.
A physician or other health professional can measure blood pressure quickly
and painlessly. If blood pressure is too high, the physician may recommend
lifestyle changes and/or medication to bring it down to a safer level.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that your body makes naturally and
you also get from foods. While your body needs cholesterol to function
properly, too much can build up on the inside walls of arteries and can
lead to possible stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
Everyone has two types of cholesterol - LDL and HDL - plus a fat called
LDL is “bad” cholesterol - too much can trigger heart disease.
HDL is “good” cholesterol as it actually reduces the risk for
Triglycerides are produced by your body and found in food. High triglyceride levels
can raise the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain or when a blood clot
prevents enough blood from getting to the brain. Each year, more than
800,000 Americans die from strokes and other forms of cardiovascular (heart
and blood vessel) disease each year. Stroke survivors are often left with
serious disabilities such as paralysis and difficulty thinking and speaking.