Wake-Up Call: Do You Have Diabetes and Not Know It? 18th Annual American Diabetes Alert Day

March 27, 2006
CONTACT: Suzanna Cisneros Martinez, suzanna.martinez@ttuhsc.edu
(806) 743-2143

LUBBOCK – The American Diabetes Association and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center will team up to “Sound the Alert” about diabetes at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday (March 28) at the Health Sciences Center Academic Classroom second floor foyer, 3601 Fourth St. Nationally, this is a one-day call-to-action held on the fourth Tuesday of March for people to find out if they are at risk for diabetes.

Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States, and more than a million people develop the disease each year. This disease cost the country $132 billion in 2002, up from $98 billion in 1997, and, despite aggressive research efforts, there remains no cure in sight. Even with this high degree of visibility and vast scope, almost one-third of the population is affected by diabetes, and many are not aware that they have the disease.

Surendra Varma, M.D., University Distinguished Professor and vice chairman of Pediatrics, said approximately 41 million Americans have pre-diabetes, which means that their blood glucose (sugar) is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

“Without intervention, individuals with pre-diabetes are at a much higher risk for developing diabetes,” Varma said. “Unfortunately, people with type 2 diabetes can live for years without realizing that they have the disease.”

Varma added that other people with diabetes can exhibit noticeable symptoms, such as frequent urination, blurred vision and excessive thirst. Most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes do not show these overt warning signs at the time that they develop the disease. Often, type 2 diabetes only becomes evident when people develop one or more of its serious complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye damage and nerve damage that can lead to amputations.

American Diabetes Association Executive Director Martha Atwood encouraged the community to take the opportunity of “Alert Day” to identify if they or someone they care for may be one of the undiagnosed or maybe at risk.

“Educate yourself about diabetes and the risk factors and warning signs. With early detection and treatment, diabetes can be managed, and its devastating complications can be prevented or delayed,” Atwood said. “The American Diabetes Association hopes that this Alert Day will help people recognize and act on any diabetes risk factors and warning signs they might discover.”

Among the primary risk factors for type 2 diabetes are being overweight, sedentary, older than age 45 and having a family history of diabetes. Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders are at an increased risk, as are women who have had babies weighing more than 9 pounds at birth.

To help people better recognize their own risk for type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association provides a simple, seven-question pencil and paper diabetes risk test. The risk test, in English or Spanish, is available in brochure form by calling the association toll-free at 1-800-342-2383, or can be taken online at www.diabetes.org/risktest.

For more information, contact the Lubbock American Diabetes Association at
(806) 794-0691 or the Texas Tech Diabetes Education Center at (806) 743-7906.

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