Around 29.1 million Americans currently have diabetes with 86 million Americans over the age of 20 now classified as having prediabetes. While this problem continues to grow at an alarming rate, many patients are surprised to hear that type 2 diabetes is completely avoidable in most cases. For those that have been diagnosed with prediabetes or would like to know more about this disease, here is a look at 5 of the most common risk factors.
1. You Have Had Diabetes Before
Anyone that has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or prediabetes in the past is at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a unique situation in which a woman develops insulin resistance or her body does not produce adequate insulin while she is pregnant. This is usually diagnosed in the 24th week and can be controlled by improving one’s diet and exercise. Prediabetes is a condition in which a patient’s blood-glucose levels are higher, but they are not yet classified as having type 2 diabetes.
2. You Are Older Than 45
The likelihood of developing diabetes past the age of 45 goes up quite a bit, but diabetes is not a natural part of aging. No matter one’s age, there are a variety of steps that they can take to lower their risks such as losing weight and getting their blood pressure under control. Currently, the group that is at the highest risk are males between 45 and 64 years old. In recent years, this demographic has actually edged out patients over the age of 65 as the highest-risk group.
3. Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure and heart disease not only increase one’s chances of developing diabetes, it can also worsen the side effects of type 2 diabetes. Anyone that is at a high risk of developing either of these conditions should speak with their primary healthcare provider about getting them under control. If they do develop diabetes as a result of either heart disease or hypertension, then the risk of issues such as diabetic eye disease and kidney disease will go up.
4. Race and Gender
As stated previously, men are at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that there is little or no bias with type 1 diabetes, but men are anywhere from 15 to 30 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. A patient’s race and ethnicity will also play a big role in this disease. Mexican Americans, African Americans, Indian Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at the highest risk of type II diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
5. Family Medical History
Having an immediate family member that has or had type II diabetes is one of the single largest risk factors. All patients should speak with their family about any siblings, parents, or grandparents with this disease. While the impact is not as high as immediate family members, those with extended family members that have type 2 diabetes are also at a higher risk. This is one of the reasons that healthcare providers are so thorough when inquiring about the family’s background with this disease.