Your Health: Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes?
Published November 7th, 2013
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's the fastest-growing disease in America. According to public health officials, diabetes was listed as a contributing factor in over 200,000 deaths in 2007.
The outlook isn't improving. If current trends continue, one in three Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
With millions of new cases every year, diabetes can seem overwhelming whether you're looking at the big picture, or facing the disease yourself.
But there is also hope for a change, something one North Central Florida man took to heart, and says he's now thriving despite his diagnosis.
"One morning, I got up to go to the bathroom, it was about 4 a.m. and it was like I couldn't see," Gainesville resident David Bridges says.
It was a wake up call for Bridges who soon found himself facing a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes, sometimes known as "adult-onset" diabetes. The disease prevents the body from producing insulin, the hormone needed to convert some types of food (namely sugar and starches) into useable energy for the body. It can lead to a range of serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney disease.
More than 90% of diagnosed diabetes cases are Type 2, while it's unkown exactly what causes the disease, diet and exercise have been shown to play a large role.
It's information Bridges took to heart and, with the help of diabetic counselors at North Florida Regional Medical Center, began educating himself on what changes would make the most impact.
"[There are] lifestyle changes, activity, medication changes, nutritional changes," NFRMC Diabetes Center Program Coordinator Theresa Davis says.
He improved his diet and began exercising, starting at just 20 or 30 minutes a day, and working up to hours of cycling around Gainesville.
"You can still do the things you like to do. You can still eat your favorite foods, but you just have to do it in moderation," Bridges says, "You just need to dial it down a notch."
After 6 months his blood work was shocking - because of his progress.
"My blood glucose went from 425 to 96 and the A1C went from 15 to 6.0," he says.
In addition to losing weight, his diabetes is now well under control.
His story is one of encouragement in a country with more than 79 million people in a prediabetic state. It's a term refering to people who are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes because of elevated normal blood gluecose levels.
"It's a very manageable disease, and very controllable and preventable with some of the right habits," Davis says.
Bridges says those new habits gave him his health back, and a new lease on life.
"I call it a sensible lifestyle, its not a diet, its just you're living a sensible lifestyle," he says.
To find out if you could be at risk for type 2 diabetes, take this risk test from the American Diabetes Association, and talk with your doctor about changes you can make to decrease your risk.
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