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Senior Lifestyles

American Diabetes Association Alert Day raises awareness

Nearly 26 million Americans live with diabetes, yet 7 million of these sufferers do not even know they have the blood-sugar disease.

To help prevent and diagnose diabetes, March 27 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, a call for people nationwide to take the new Diabetes Risk Test to determine if they are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for approximately 90 percent of cases.

This year’s 24th Annual American Diabetes Association Alert Day offers a more accurate Diabetes Risk Test and Facebook access. Participants are encouraged to take the test and share the free questionnaire with their social networks. More than 600,000 people took the Diabetes Risk Test in 2011, and the American Diabetes Association hopes to surpass that number this year through the Alert Day’s “Take It. Share It.” theme.

“Right at Home of Santa Clara County encourages everyone of all ages to take the new Diabetes Risk Test,” said Right at Home owner Gene Lennon. “The questions are simple and quick, and you can participate with family members, friends, classmates and work colleagues to protect your health together.”

An estimated 79 million – one in three U.S. children and adults – have pre-diabetes, higher than normal blood sugar, which puts them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Generally, diagnosis occurs seven to 10 years after onset of the disease, leaving many people with debilitating and deadly complications, such as heart and kidney disease, blindness, stroke and amputation. Often, people with Type 2 diabetes have no symptoms of the disease, but common symptoms can include:

• Frequent urination

• Unusual thirst

• Extreme hunger

• Unusual weight loss

• Extreme fatigue, irritability

• Frequent infections (particularly skin, gum or bladder)

• Blurred vision

• Cuts/bruises that heal slowly

• Tingling or numbness in the hands/feet

Leading risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight, sedentary, over the age of 45 and having a family history of diabetes. Individuals in the following population segments face increased possibility for undiagnosed diabetes:

• Older Americans – diabetes risks increases with age. One out of every four Americans 65 and older has diabetes.

• Certain ethnic populations, including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders.

• Women who have had a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth.

Individuals can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes through:

• A healthy weight – losing just 7 percent of body weight (15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) helps control diabetes.

• Regular physical activity – exercise helps lower blood glucose and can decrease the need for insulin or diabetes pills.

• Healthful eating – www.diabetes.org offers meal and snack guidelines and flavorful recipes for diabetics and those prone to the disease.

To take the Diabetes Risk Test, available in English and Spanish, visit stopdiabetes.com. For more information, call (800) DIABETES.

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