Guest Blog Post: MA DPH Raises Prediabetes Awareness for Diabetes Alert Day

The following is a guest Blog Post from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in recognition of Diabetes Alert Day (March 28th)

Type 2 diabetes is a serious and costly public health issue affecting tens of millions of Americans. Older adults have an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. For those over 65, 1 in every 2 has prediabetes. In Massachusetts, there may be as many as 1.8 million adults who have prediabetes.

What is prediabetes? Prediabetes happens when blood sugar (glucose) levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes.

An intervention, however, in the form of a prediabetes screening and referral to an evidence-based lifestyle change program, can help prevent the development of diabetes and the many serious conditions and complications associated with it.

Most people with prediabetes are unaware that they have it. Only 1 in 10 Americans know they have prediabetes. In Massachusetts, only 1 in 20 residents (5%) with prediabetes know they have it. [1]

With no change in lifestyles, 15 to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.[2]

Diabetes Prevention Program: A National Movement

Health care providers can now diagnose prediabetes with a simple blood glucose test. For those patients who are diagnosed with prediabetes, providers can refer to a local Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).

A proven interventional approach, DPP uses trained coaches who help people make realistic lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier, adding more physical activity, and managing stress. Group DPP sessions are typically held at a local YMCA, community or wellness center, or other nearby venue. The 1 hour long classes meet weekly for the first six months and then monthly for the next six months.

Studies show that DPP participants have cut their risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 58 percent (70 % for adults over the age of 60).[3]

Prediabetes Screening

The CDC and AMA strongly urge that individuals ask their doctors if they’re at risk for diabetes and if they need a prediabetes screening. Likewise, health care providers are urged to prescribe blood glucose tests for patients who may be at risk for diabetes.

Patients who are diagnosed with prediabetes should be referred to a local DPP site.

Learn More Today

Visit the Massachusetts Diabetes Prevention Program website – www.mass.gov/dph/preventdiabetes  to download a toolkit with related materials regarding testing and diagnosis of prediabetes and to find a DPP site near you!

For Age-Friendly Communities

Visit the Community Profiles report from the MA Healthy Aging Collaborative and click on your city or town to see how older adults compare to state averages in terms of prevalence of diabetes. The DPP intervention can be part of your community’s action plan to improve healthy aging locally.

[1] American Diabetes Association

[2] CDC (www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/resources_hcp.htm)

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11832527

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