Who should be screened for diabetes?

If you are showing symptoms of diabetes, it makes sense to see your doctor. But what if you are asymptomatic and do not have any risk factors? The American Diabetes Association recommends testing every three years beginning at the age of 45, even if you do not currently have symptoms. If you are overweight or have any additional risk factors, you should begin even earlier.

Who is most at risk?

Being overweight is a well-known contributing factor to type 2 diabetes, but it is not the only risk factor. Certain racial/ethnic groups may have an increased likelihood of developing diabetes, even if they have a lower body mass index (BMI). In addition to BMI, the following could put you at higher risk for developing the disease:

  • Immediate family member with type 2 diabetes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian
  • You’ve had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level ≤35 mg/dL
  • Triglyceride level ≥250 mg/dL
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose (“pre-diabetes”) on previous blood-glucose testing
  • History of heart disease

If you are pregnant, you may also be at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes if you are older than 25, have a family or past history of gestational diabetes, or are overweight. Additionally, women who are black, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian also show an increased likelihood of developing the disease.

Are you at risk? Get screened.

Your doctor may recommend including a diabetes screening during your annual check-up based on your health or family history. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening as part of cardiovascular risk assessment in adults aged 40 to 70 years who are overweight/obese. Yet many patients do not receive early screenings that could prevent complications later. If you have one or more of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor about getting screened. 

You have control

Just because you are at higher risk of developing diabetes doesn’t mean it is inevitable. You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes – even if you have already been diagnosed with prediabetes. Eating well, moving more, and living healthfully can lessen the likelihood you will develop the disease. Getting screened regularly and before you have developed any symptoms will give you time to plan a course of action before any complications occur.

Just how important is early identification? Even if you have developed prediabetes or diabetes, earlier intervention leads to better patient outcomes and can lessen your likelihood of complications such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease increase. And making lifestyle changes such as opting to lose 5-7% of your body weight if overweight and increasing your activity can reduce the number of days you miss from work and the number of medications you need to take.

We’re here to help

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with diabetes and have questions about managing your disease, talk to your Hawthorne pharmacist. Whatever your healthcare needs, we are here for you!

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

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