Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
New Brunswick • Somerset

Know Your Diabetes Risk

March 10, 2010
Knowing Your Risk: Start Preventing Type 2 Diabetes Today

By Dr. Cathleen Mullarkey 

Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with the most common form of diabetes, type 2. While many are able to live healthy lives by managing this chronic condition with medication or insulin therapy, diet, and exercise, there are still many people who are unaware of the important life-saving steps that can help reduce diabetes’ harsh impact.

To add to this growing problem, there are many Americans who remain undiagnosed, or are unaware that they are at high risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, 57 million of us, or about one in five Americans, are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and many members of this population will live with the condition for seven to ten years before diagnosis. This reinforces the need for early diagnosis and the importance of successfully treating and avoiding or reducing some of type 2 diabetes’ effects, including heart diseases, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death. 

With type 2 diabetes, the body is either resistant to the effects of insulin, or the body does not produce enough insulin. The hormone insulin is critical in regulating the movement of glucose, or sugar, into the blood cells. Without glucose, the body becomes like a car with no fuel, and it begins to shut down.

Unfortunately, no cure has been found for type 2 diabetes, but there are certainly ways that one can manage, and even prevent, the condition. Following a healthy diet, exercising regularly (about 30 minutes per day, five days per week), and maintaining a healthy weight are all habits that can keep the condition under control, or prevent it altogether. Even for those who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, these lifestyle changes can help make strides in their diabetes management. 

Now more than ever, America is at risk. It’s time that we raise awareness of type 2 diabetes and of the fact that, untreated, the condition can be deadly. 

This year, on March 23, Somerset Medical Center’s Diabetes Center joins the American Diabetes Association in marking the 22nd annual American Diabetes Alert Day, a one-day “wake-up” call through which the Association asks the American public, “What will you do to stop Diabetes?” As part of the Stop Diabetes movement, the goal of this annual awareness day is to alert the undiagnosed population and provide life-saving information about type 2 diabetes risk and prevention. We encourage people to take the Diabetes Risk Test by visiting www.stopdiabetes.com or calling 1-800-DIABETES and, if they are at high risk, to see their healthcare provider. 

Somerset Medical Center’s Diabetes Center helps people with diabetes comprehensively manage their disease, providing a full spectrum of services including one-on-one counseling, education, exercise planning, a support group, a gestational program for women who have diabetes during pregnancy, nutritional counseling, medical management and family support. For more information about the Diabetes Center, call 908-685-2846 or visit somersetmedicalcenter.com/diabetes. 

Dr. Mullarkey, a board-certified endocrinologist, is medical director of the Diabetes Center at Somerset Medical Center.