3/29/02 - Pre-Diabetes Testing

There's a diabetes epidemic in the United States. Seventeen million Americans are diabetic, and another 16 million have a condition doctors are now calling pre-diabetes, but this new awareness period can help prevent Type-2 diabetes later on. Pre-diabetes is just as dangerous as diabetes because that's what it's leading to. The first step you need to take is finding out if you're at risk.

At 74-years-old, Dean Osbourne thought he was living a pretty healthy lifestyle. That changed three months ago when his doctor told him he has diabetes. Osbourne says, "I had high blood, and it kept going up for three months, and the doctor said we needed to put a stop to it." Since then, Osbourne has been spending a lot of time on the treadmill, and watching what he eats. He's lost 15 pounds, and his blood sugar level has dropped over 180 points and is back to normal. It's happening all because now, he's aware of what he needs to do to get his sugar level under control. "Since then, I've learned you have to count your carbohydrates and your fat intake, and take your blood sugar," Osbourne says.

Janet Stewart is a nurse at Southeast Hospital. She's also the president of the American Diabetes Association's south central region. She says people, like Osbourne, are pre-diabetic for years, and can save themselves from becoming diabetic if they take action. In the end, it will mean avoiding serious health problems. Stewart says, "Diabetes unfortunately is the leading cause of blindness, it's the leading cause of people needing dialysis, it's the leading cause of non-traumatic amputations or loss of limb. People with diabetes don't die from diabetes, but they die from these complications or heart disease." To test for diabetes, doctors do either a blood sugar test, or a glucose tolerance test. Both require taking just a little bit of blood, but health officials say that's a small price to pay for the information they'll give you. Stewart says, " Information is power and the opportunity to turn back the clock from having diabetes, to it not being a part of your life by having the information, and implementing a healthy lifestyle is significant."

Everyone 45 and older should be tested for diabetes, especially if you're overweight, have high cholesterol, or have a family history of the disease.