(Baptist Health) – Type 2 diabetes affects millions of people, but millions more are at high risk for the disease and don’t know it. Are you one of them?
Answering a few questions can help you learn more about your risk.
Note: This assessment is not intended to be a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider.
Are you overweight?
If you answered “yes.” Being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Ask your doctor about getting tested for diabetes. Fortunately, losing even a few pounds can lower your diabetes risk.
If you answered “no.” Good for you. Being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. But keep an eye on your weight. Weight gain is common as people age.
If you answered “I don’t know.” To get an idea if you are at a healthy weight or overweight or obese, calculate your body mass index (BMI).
Note: For diabetes risk, Asian Americans are considered overweight at a BMI of 23 or higher.
Are you 45 years or older?
If you answered “yes.” The risk for type 2 diabetes goes up with age, so it’s recommended that you get tested for the disease if you are 45 or older. Testing is particularly important if you are also overweight.
To help reduce your risk for diabetes, adopt healthy habits such as eating right, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight.
If you answered “no.” Your age doesn’t yet put you at increased risk for diabetes. Because age is a diabetes risk factor you can’t avoid, it’s important to take steps to control other risk factors now. For example, you should adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as eating right, staying active and managing your weight.
Do you have a parent, brother or sister who has diabetes?
If you answered “yes.” Having a family history of diabetes increases your risk for the disease.
If you answered “no.” You are at lower risk for diabetes than people who have a family history of the disease. If you aren’t sure of your family’s history, ask a relative.
Are you Hispanic or an Alaska Native, American Indian, African American, Asian American or Pacific Islander?
If you answered “yes.” Your race and ethnicity put you at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
If you answered “no.” Your race and ethnicity don’t appear to put you at increased risk for diabetes.
Are you physically inactive on most days of the week?
If you answered “yes.” Inactivity increases your risk for type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise can help prevent diabetes in a number of ways. For example, it’s a great way to control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
For your health, make exercise a part of your regular routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. Start slowly and talk to your doctor first for advice about exercising safely.
If you answered “no.” Great! Among other things, regular exercise helps keep weight, cholesterol and blood pressure under control. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week.
Do you have high blood pressure?
If you answered “yes.” High blood pressure—140/90 mm Hg or higher—increases your risk for type 2 diabetes. Getting your blood pressure down to a healthy range can help prevent diabetes and other health problems. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for controlling your blood pressure.
If you answered “no.” Good. Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range can lower your risk for diabetes. But even if your blood pressure is OK now, be sure to have it checked regularly. Blood pressure tends to go up with age.
If you answered “I don’t know.” High blood pressure generally doesn’t produce symptoms. Still, since the condition increases your risk of diabetes (as well as other life-threatening health problems, including heart attack and stroke), it’s important to know if your blood pressure is in a healthy range. See your doctor and find out.
Do you have unhealthy cholesterol levels?
If you answered “yes.” Unhealthy cholesterol levels raise your risk of type 2 diabetes. Exercise and eating right are great ways to keep cholesterol levels under control. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for getting your cholesterol levels to a healthy spot.
If you answered “no.” Good. By keeping your cholesterol levels in a healthy range, you’re helping to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Still, it’s important to monitor your cholesterol levels by having them tested at least once every five years starting at age 20.
If you answered “I don’t know.” It’s a good idea to learn your cholesterol levels. Unhealthy levels usually don’t produce any symptoms, but they do raise your risk for health problems such as diabetes and heart attack. If you’re 20 or older, you should have your cholesterol tested at least once every five years.
Have you had gestational diabetes?
If you answered “yes.” A history of gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and goes away afterward), means you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women who haven’t had gestational diabetes. Be sure to tell your doctor about this risk factor.
If you answered “no.” Women who have had gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and goes away afterward) are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women who didn’t have gestational diabetes.
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, share the results of this test with your doctor and ask about how you can reduce your risk for diabetes.
If you answered “no” to all the questions, you don’t appear to have any major risk factors for diabetes. That’s great news. However, it’s important to note that your risk for diabetes may change over time. In fact, everyone’s risk goes up as they get older.
If you didn’t know the answers to any questions, you should learn the answers and take the assessment again.
Share the results of this test with your doctor, and ask about how you can reduce your risk for diabetes.
For more information, visit the Diabetes health topic center.
Sources: American Diabetes Association; American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force