Location: Toledo, Ohio
Visiting the doctor for annual or biannual checkups can be very effective for disease prevention. Recently, my mother went to the doctor and had her labs taken. I am an intern studying dietetics, so she typically comes to me for medical advice. Soon after the visit she told me her fasting blood glucose was 126 (normal levels are <100 mg/dl). The doctor did not mention this as a concern, despite the fact that type 2 diabetes runs in our family and that she is overweight.
I was shocked that her fasting blood glucose value was overlooked. However, with that test result, I quickly starting making a list of all the things she needed to discuss with her doctor. From my education, I have learned of successful interventions that may prevent or delay the progression of type 2 diabetes. I suggested she have her hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) tested, to better understand her long-term glucose metabolism. I wanted her to discuss the use of metformin, a drug that can help regulate blood glucose. And I wanted her to meet with a dietitian to learn about lifestyle modifications.
After their next discussion, my mom’s doctor decided to analyze her A1C and schedule an appointment with a dietitian. The physician did not see a benefit of using medication at this time. Her A1C came back a 5.7 (the high end of normal) but because of our predispositions to type 2 diabetes, I nudged her to see the dietitian regardless. Meeting with the dietitian was very helpful. She was taught the mechanisms of metabolism and created goals to exercise and eat breakfast in order to control her blood glucose.
It is never too early to begin preventative measures; when someone has elevated fasting blood glucose, I believe preventative practices should always be discussed. Sadly, others may not be aware of the ways to prevent or at least delay the progression of type 2.
Today, my mother is exercising for 30 minutes five times a week, trying to eat a light breakfast and consume carbohydrates on a regular schedule. I believe she was lucky to have a daughter educated on the subject of diabetes. Others may need to question or show concern to their physicians to obtain the same kind of treatment and advice. An estimated 79 million Americans have prediabetes, and their conditions may be overlooked.
I encourage everyone to learn the risk factors for type 2, question their physicians and laboratory results to remain informed and take control of their health.
Do you know your risk for type 2 diabetes? March 26 was American Diabetes Association Alert Day®, and the Association encourages you to take the Diabetes Risk Test and share it with everyone you know. You will find this free test on Facebook, on stopdiabetes.com or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).