When it comes to diabetes, small changes can make a big difference -- even in the middle of an epidemic that currently affects more than 2 million Americans and Canadians, and costs us an estimated $13.2 billion per year. Earlier prevention, earlier diagnosis, and very aggressive treatment of diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and lipid (i.e.cholesterol) levels have proven to prevent or significantly delay the damage that uncontrolled diabetes can cause to the body's blood vessels.
In terms of both the onset of diabetes and its complications,"The 2003 Guidelines have a much stronger focus on prevention throughout the lifespan of diabetes," notes Donna Lillie, Vice President, Research and Professional Education. "Diabetes does not wait. Individuals need to ask, "Am I at risk and what can I do?"
To help Canadians answer that question, the Canadian Diabetes Association's 2003 Guidelines have lowered the age considered at risk for diabetes by five years. That means an additional 2.5 million Canadians age 40 to 44 are now recommended for screening for high blood glucose (sugar).
The urgent need to identify people at risk is fuelled by expectations that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes will increase by up to 50% over the next 10 to 20 years.
Currently, about half of those diagnosed have already had diabetes for as long as 7 years, so the clock has already been ticking for some time. We want to avoid the common scenario where someone finds out that they have diabetes only when they're admitted to the hospital. We need to recognize that diabetes is a cardiovascular disease. This is another new focus of these guidelines.
In people with diabetes, we often see a clustering of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. What we've learned in the last few years is that (compared to the general population) people with diabetes are at greater risk for all these complications. That's why having diabetes is about more than managing blood glucose.
Evidence over the last ten years clearly proves that like elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, high blood glucose is a continuous risk. That means the higher levels, the greater your risk of problems. The connection may be difficult to make, since all three conditions are often silent, so people don't necessarily feel their ill effects.
Author: Susan Rutter -- Publisher, Nutritionist, and Instructor who assists patients and the public make healthy choices and changes in their lives. Web Site: Healthy YOUbbies - http://www.geocities.com/healthyoubbies/