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Diabetes Risk Factors



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Diabetes Risk Factors

Twenty-four million people in the United States have diabetes, and almost 6 million of them do not know they have it. People who have diabetes have problems with high blood glucose (also called blood sugar). Our bodies use glucose for energy. With diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin or use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use blood glucose for energy. You can prevent or delay developing diabetes. Right now, about 57 million people in the U.S. have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes means blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal, but not as high as someone who has diabetes.

Diabetes risk factors include:

  • Having pre-diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Having a parent or brother or sister with diabetes
  • Being over 45 years old
  • Not exercising regularly or being inactive
  • Belonging to specific ethnic or racial groups, such as African American, Latino(a), Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander
  • Having a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes which developed during pregnancy)
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having abnormal blood fat levels (high triglycerides or low HDL)

To find out if you may be at risk for diabetes, please take our free, 7-minute online diabetes health risk assessment.

How can I reduce my risk of developing pre-diabetes or diabetes?

  • Become more active, by safely doing some physical activity each day.
  • Make healthy food choices. Eat more vegetables, salads and fruits.
  • Limit sweet drinks and drink more water.
  • Eat smaller portions and smaller, healthier snacks. For example, a small handful of nuts or a piece of fruit or a few 100% whole grain crackers.
  • If you are overweight, even a 10 pound weight loss can help.
  • If you are not overweight, maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk of developing pre-diabetes and diabetes.

Ask for support from people who care about you. They can help you can make the changes you need to make to stay healthy. When you reduce your of developing diabetes, you reduce your risk of developing long term problems caused by diabetes. If you already have diabetes, you can reduce your risk of developing long term problems by making the same small changes. You should also:

  • Take your diabetes medicine as prescribed.
  • Test your blood glucose to make decisions about your diabetes self care.
  • Attend a diabetes self management class.

What are the long term problems caused by high blood glucose levels?

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Amputations
  • Blindness

How do I know if I am reducing my risk of long term problems?

You can reduce your risk by keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. You should also maintain a healthy blood pressure and healthy blood fat levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, your blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat numbers should be:

  • Diabetes blood test: Hemoglobin A1c (three month average blood glucose)
    • Less than 7% (This means that over the last 3 months, your average blood glucose was less than 154 mg/dL.)
  • Blood pressure less than 130/80
  • Blood fats
    • Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL
    • LDL (bad cholesterol) less than 100 mg/dL
    • HDL (good cholesterol) more than 60 mg/dL

Making the changes to reduce the risk can feel overwhelming, especially if you try to do this on your own. No one has to manage diabetes alone. There is guidance and help. Diabetes education begins while people are still in the hospital and continues in the outpatient setting. Most of diabetes care is about the choices you make every day. You can learn how to stay well and avoid a future hospital stay.

How Winter Haven Hospital can help

If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes or if you have not been taking care of your diabetes, Winter Haven Hospital can help.

At Winter Haven Hospital’s Center for Diabetes Education, you can learn to take care of diabetes by attending individual appointments and classes with certified diabetes educators. Our classes are open to anyone in the community with a doctor’s referral.

If you need to be in the hospital, Winter Haven Hospital has an inpatient unit focused on the care of people who have diabetes. Our nurses provide care and teach the first steps in learning how to manage diabetes. The inpatient nurses work with the educators in the outpatient program to help you continue to learn diabetes self care after you leave the hospital.

For more information or to register for an appointment or class, please call the Center for Diabetes Education at (863) 293-1121 ext. 3066.

Our Commitment to Diabetes Excellence
Veronica Isaac, RN, BSN
Unit Manager, Medical Surgical Diabetes Center
Winter Haven Hospital

Winter Haven Hospital is committed to serving our community through becoming a Diabetes Center of Excellence. Our goal is to provide state of the art treatment and empower people with the education and tools they need to control their diabetes. We have taken several steps to better serve the needs of our inpatients who have diabetes.

Our Diabetes Service Line Committee includes endocrinologists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, dietitians, registered nurses and quality improvement staff. The team meets monthly to develop plans that guide the improvement of diabetes therapies and services. For example, the team has created diabetes treatment plans based on current research.

We measure quality to ensure that our procedures and policies are effective in the treatment of diabetes. On our designated diabetes inpatient unit, the nurses are focused and devoted toward the care of people with diabetes. Our nurses provide diabetes education in the daily care of their patients. Education and training focus on helping people learn how to manage diabetes. Topics include:

  • Diabetes medicines
  • Blood glucose testing at home
  • How to eat to manage diabetes
  • Recognizing and responding to problems

Our inpatient staff works with the outpatient educators in the Center for Diabetes Education. Before leaving the hospital, all inpatients are given an appointment with one of the outpatient educators. After discharge from the hospital, diabetes education continues through the individual appointment and also group classes. Our goal is to help people stay well and avoid a future hospital stay.

November 14th is World Diabetes Day
November is American Diabetes Month

World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the increasing health threat that diabetes now poses. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2007. This year sees the first of a five-year campaign that will address the growing need for diabetes education and prevention programs.

Each year, throughout the world, more than 3.8 million people die from diabetes-related causes, one death every 10 seconds. This silent epidemic claims as many lives annually as HIV/AIDS. (Source: International Diabetes Federation)

Chances are you or someone you know is living with diabetes. In the United States, almost 24 million people have diabetes. This is approximately 8% of the US population. More than 5 million people in the United States do not know they have diabetes.

More than 57 million people live with pre-diabetes, a condition that significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes.


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