BALTIMORE — Baltimore— In 2015, more than 10 percent of Maryland adults received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Another 1.6 million, or 37 percent, of Maryland adults are estimated to have pre-diabetes, a serious condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. For Diabetes Awareness Month,
the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is urging Marylanders to know their risk for the disease and to take steps to better manage their health.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin properly. Only 25 percent of people with diabetes are aware of their diagnoses, increasing their chances of serious complications – which can include stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, lower-limb amputations, adult onset blindness, and nervous system damage.
Risk factors include being overweight or obese, not being physically active, having high blood pressure and having a family history of the disease. Women who had diabetes while pregnant or who delivered infants who weighed more than nine pounds at birth are also at risk. The disease is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. A simple test can help people determine their risk for diabetes.
People with diabetes require continuous medical care with a variety of risk reduction strategies that go beyond blood sugar control. These include educating themselves on the disease, addressing cardiovascular risks such as blood pressure, stopping smoking, managing weight, engaging in physical activity and regularly monitoring their eye and foot health.
Marylanders can take steps to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes; these steps include losing weight if they are overweight, staying active most days of the week, and eating nutritious meals that include vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods. There are prevention and self-management workshops in Maryland where people with diabetes, prediabetes, and their caregivers can take to learn tools and strategies to live healthier. Find more information at www.BeHealthyMaryland.org.
Health and Mental Hygiene encourages its healthcare partners across the state to take some time during November to provide information and to urge people to take a risk test to find out if they are at risk for diabetes. To find this risk test and more information about diabetes prevention and management in Maryland, visit http://powertopreventdiabetes.org/.