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Are You at Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes?

Nearly 10 percent of Americans have type 2 diabetes and millions go undiagnosed. Linked to heart disease, blood vessel and kidney damage, diabetes increases the risk for many serious health problems. The diabetes death rate In Washington County tops all other counties in Maryland.

“I see more and more diabetic and prediabetic patients,” says Rabail Razi-Akmal, M.D., internist with WillowWood Adult Medicine. “A lot of it has to do with obesity, smoking and lifestyle choices.”

Type 2 diabetes develops over time. “You don’t wake up one day with a high blood sugar level,” says Dr. Razi-Akmal. With type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin or the pancreas stops producing insulin. Individuals with diabetes have too much glucose or blood sugar in their bloodstream which can negatively affect the whole body, including the cardiovascular system, circulation, eyesight and kidney function.

Diabetes risk factors

Several risk factors are associated with type 2 diabetes and include:

Family history

Gestational diabetes

Body mass index above 25 or waist size larger than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women

Over the age of 45

High blood pressure

Inactivity

“Diabetes is known as a silent killer,” says Dr. Razi-Akmal. People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms at first.

Keep ahead of type 2 diabetes

With the help of your primary care physician, you can take control of the onset of diabetes. Dr. Razi-Akmal recommends scheduling yearly well visits. “Make sure you’re open with your doctor and discuss lifestyle and eating habits,” says Dr. Razi-Akmal.

As a part of your exam, your doctor may order a fasting blood glucose test and a hemoglobin A1C test which measures your blood sugar level over three months. A normal fasting blood sugar range is between 70 and 99, but if you fall between 100 and 125, you’re considered prediabetic.

But here’s the good news: people with prediabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes—and in some cases return their blood glucose to normal levels.

Shelley Taylor, RN, is a certified diabetes educator for the primary care practices of Meritus Medical Group. Shelley encourages patients to keep a health journal or use a fitness device to understand what they’re eating and how often they exercise. “I had one patient come off insulin just by eliminating soda from her diet,” says Shelley.

According to Shelley, the more you understand diabetes, the better prepared you are for preventing the disease. She recommends enrolling in Washington County Health Department’s diabetes prevention program.

If you think you’re at risk for developing diabetes, talk to your primary care physician right away. If you’re looking for a primary care physician, Dr. Razi-Akmal is accepting new patients. Call WillowWood Adult Medicine at 301-714-4175 to schedule an appointment.

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