Risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
How Is Diabetes Diagnosed
Out of the estimated 24 million people with diabetes, one third, or eight million, don’t know they have the disease. This is because people with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms. However, a simple blood test is all you need to find out if you are one the millions with untreated diabetes.
Who should be tested?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that everyone aged 45 and over should be tested for diabetes, and if the results are normal, re-tested every three years. Testing should be conducted at earlier ages and carried out more frequently in individuals who have any of the following diabetes risk factors:
- You have a parent or sibling with diabetes
- You are overweight (BMI higher than 25)
- You are a member of a high-risk ethnic population (African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander)
- You had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing over 9 pounds
- Your HDL cholesterol levels are 35 mg/dl or less, and/or your triglyceride level is 250 mg/dl or above
- You have high blood pressure
- You have polycystic ovarian syndrome
- On previous testing, had impaired fasting tolerance
Researchers don’t fully understand why some people develop prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and others don’t. It’s clear that certain factors increase the risk, however, including:
- The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
- The less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Family history. Your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are at higher risk.
- Your risk increases as you get older. This may be because you tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as you age. But type 2 diabetes is also increasing dramatically among children, adolescents and younger adults.
- Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later increases. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you’re also at risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome — a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — increases the risk of diabetes.
- High blood pressure. Having blood pressure over 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high levels of triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can let you know what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are.