Understanding Diabetes

Knowing your blood sugar level is an important part of healthy living and lifestyle management. You want your fasting blood sugar level to be below 100. If it is 100 to 126, you may be pre-diabetic; if it’s above 126, you may have Type 2 diabetes.

A fasting blood sugar level means you are tested when you haven’t eaten for at least nine hours -- including no cream or sugar in your coffee. Measuring blood sugar levels as a diabetic is very important. Nearly six million Americans have diabetes, and they don’t know it. Left untreated, diabetes can cause severe complications, including heart disease, damage to blood vessels throughout your body, stroke, blindness, nerve damage and kidney disease -- any of which shortens your life or lessens your quality of life. Ultimately amputations could result. Live a heart-healthier life by partnering with your physician to:

  • Regularly monitor your blood sugar; knowing what your blood sugar should be and striving to reach that number
  • Eat a consistent, well-balanced diet that is high in fiber, low in saturated fat and low in concentrated sweets, roughly the same number of calories at about the same time of day
  • Exercise regularly in any form; activity can reduce your risk of developing complications of diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and leg ulcers; as little as 20 minutes of walking 3 times a week has a proven beneficial effect -- any exercise is beneficial, no matter how light or how long; some exercise is better than no exercise

A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention --the first study ever to look at heart disease prevalence in each state-- showed a distinct cause and effect between the 5 key health indicators and life-limiting heart conditions. The states that have the highest prevalence of heart disease also have high levels of obesity, diabetes and smoking. Missouri ranked 9th in this study with 7.3 percent of the study participants reporting a history of myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) or angina/coronary heart disease (CHD). The national average is 6.5.

Overweight and obesity can increase your risk for high cholesterol; heart disease; diabetes; certain cancers (endometrial, prostate, breast and colon); sleep apnea and other respiratory problems; gallbladder disease; high blood pressure; stroke; and osteoarthritis. If your body mass index (BMI) puts you above 25, you are at risk for these health conditions, any of which can shorten your life or lessen your quality of life. Deaths in the United States from poor diet and physical inactivity increase every year.

With 63 percent of the St. Louis city and county population classified as either overweight or obese, chances are greatly increased that a greater proportion of diabetes diagnoses will be seen in this area. Learn more about Medication Safety and Diabetes, and Your Doctor Visit

Diabetes Defined 

Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of glucose in the blood resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action or both. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy for daily life. Diabetes is a chronic illness that requires ongoing medical care and education. If you have diabetes and need help, these tips have some information about getting back on track with your care

Just the Facts

  • As the fifth most common cause of death in the United States, the incidence of diabetes is growing at an alarming pace -- 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed in 2007
  • Medical costs for people with diabetes are five times greater than medical costs for people without diabetes
  • There are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States --7 percent of the population-- who have diabetes
  • While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, 6.2 million people --nearly one-third-- are unaware they have the disease
  • About 65 percent of people with diabetes will die from a heart attack or stroke