Each year, more than a million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. And though the condition can largely be managed through proper diet, exercise and medication, many individuals with diabetes will develop serious health complications during their lives.
That’s why diabetes screenings are so important. With early detection, most individuals can make the lifestyle changes necessary to avoid developing the disease.
“Often patients who have prediabetes aren’t even experiencing symptoms,” said Kindrell Tucker, MD, Family Practice. “If we can test at-risk patients and catch the condition early, we can often help them avoid diabetes and associated health problems, such as glaucoma, kidney disease and heart disease.”
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Individuals with pre-diabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 86 million Americans aged 20 and older had prediabetes in 2012 and more than 29 million Americans had diabetes.
In the past, physicians tested for diabetes and prediabetes by administering a glucose tolerance test, which required patients to fast for several hours before having blood drawn for a lab test. The test would give patients a score, with those scoring higher than 100 considered prediabetic and those scoring 126 or higher considered diabetic.
Recently, physicians have begun favoring a different method of diabetes testing, called the A1C test. This test can provide a more accurate assessment by measuring the average level of glucose in the blood over the previous two to three months. An A1C level of 5.6 or is considered normal, 5.7 is considered pre-diabetes and 6.5 or higher is considered diabetic.
“We recommend individuals who are at elevated risk for diabetes, particularly those with a family history, be tested annually,” said Tucker.
Although genetics can contribute to the risk of developing diabetes, individuals who are overweight, physically inactive, have high blood pressure, certain racial heritage (African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian-American and Pacific Islander) and a history of gestational diabetes are among those at increased risk.
Individuals who are concerned about their diabetes risk, or who have been diagnosed with the disease, should see their primary care physician, Tucker recommends. By working closely with their physician, the condition can be managed or even prevented.
If you need assistance finding a doctor, call (936) 699-CARE (2273) or visit WoodlandHeights.net.
About Woodland Heights Medical Center
Established in 1918, Woodland Heights Medical Center was Lufkin’s first hospital. Now, more than nine decades later, Woodland Heights is recognized throughout Deep East Texas as the leading provider of high quality, innovative health care services. Accommodating a wide range of clinical specialties, Woodland Heights has achieved excellence in key medical and surgical areas including cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, orthopedic surgery, physical medicine/rehabilitation, vascular surgery and obstetrics and gynecology. Woodland Heights also offers a full range of outpatient diagnostic services including advanced imaging, laboratory, outpatient surgery and emergency services. Through its Rehabilitation Center, Woodland Heights offers cardiac rehabilitation, stroke recovery and physical and occupational rehabilitation. The facility also houses the only Level 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the deep East Texas area. Woodland Heights is directly or indirectly owned by a partnership that proudly includes physician owners, including certain members of the hospital’s medical staff. Combining modern facilities, leading technology, an exceptional staff and a commitment to the communities it serves, Woodland Heights Medical Center remains at the forefront of quality health care in Deep East Texas.