With November celebrated as American Diabetes Awareness Month, the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. also wants to focus on not just diabetes and its complications but also on prediabetes, when an individual is just starting to show symptoms of developing diabetes.
According to the CNMI Non-Communicable Disease and Risk Factor Hybrid Survey from 2013 to 2015, up to 18% of adults in the CNMI have diabetes, compared to 12% of adults in the U.S. mainland. Many people in the CNMI face serious health burdens as a result of complications due to diabetes, including amputation, infection, kidney disease, and blindness.
Diabetes causes reduced blood flow to the feet, which leads to infections and ulcers forming on a toe, foot, or below the knee leading to an amputation. In addition, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, leading to patients requiring either a kidney transplant or dialysis, and dialysis is not a cure, but a lifelong treatment. Lastly, diabetes increases a person’s chances of having heart diseases and strokes as it leads to increased blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
With the CHCC Diabetes Prevention and Control Program aiming to raise awareness about prediabetes, it recommends getting screened if you are of the following:
• Overweight or obese.
• 45 years or older.
• Have a mother, father, sister, or brother with Type 2 diabetes.
• Not physically active.
• Are a woman and you had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 lbs.
• Have polycystic ovary syndrome.
• Are of African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, or Asian heritage.
Prediabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be considered Type 2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes). Prediabetes increases your risk of developing not only Type 2 diabetes, but also increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
According to the CDC, more than 1 out of 3 Americans have prediabetes, and most of them do not even know they have it.
One of the easiest ways to prevent diabetes is seeing your healthcare provider every year to check your risk for prediabetes through a blood sugar test. Prediabetes and diabetes management outcomes are better and more successful the earlier that high blood sugar is detected.
Many CNMI residents may have had prediabetes for years, but have not had any symptoms. This is detrimental to their health, because the lack of knowledge of having prediabetes can lead to serious, lifelong problems.
CHCC recommends maintaining physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week, in addition to eating healthier and replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water or infused water.