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Better Heart Health Can Help Prevent Diabetes

Before you hit the tipping point, medical experts say there are many good reasons to prevent a progression to diabetes. A major consideration is to protect our hearts.

Latest figures show that 84 million adults in the U.S. are dangerously close to becoming a type two diabetic. It is a stage doctors call ‘prediabetes.’ As many as 70 percent of people with prediabetes will eventually go on to full diabetes.

Prediabetics have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet, but without lifestyle changes, adults and children with prediabetes are at high risk to develop the blood disease.

If you show evidence of prediabetes, the long-term damage of diabetes — especially to your heart, blood vessels, and kidneys — may already be starting.

APRN Lori O’Toole, with LCO Nursing Consultants spoke on the topic during the recent American Association of Nurse Practitioners meeting.

“A majority of people with prediabetes will eventually have diabetes, usually within 5 years,” she said. “The prevalence of prediabetes is increasing worldwide, and it is projected that 470 million people will have prediabetes by 2030.”

Aggressively identifying and treating prediabetes can go a long way in reducing chronic illness in addition to restoring quality of life for millions of Americans.

The good news is the progression of diabetes is not inevitable 

Risk factors for prediabetes are similar to those for type 2 diabetes: excess weight, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, older age, family history of type 2 diabetes, race, gestational diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, sleep apnea, smoking, and low birth weight.

Similar to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes has a strong association with hypertension, low levels of HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and metabolic syndrome. All of those are risk factors for heart diseases, which is the number one cause of death in this country.

The link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease is well established.

Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states people with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease. Chief among them is high blood pressure.

All of this reaffirms a growing body of research that bettering heart health can play a significant role in preventing the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.

To turn the tide, the Mayo Clinic offers this advice:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Getting active
  • Losing excess weight
  • Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Not smoking

Simple lifestyle changes, like losing as little as 10 pounds, can make a big difference in your health.

What do you think?

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