November is Diabetes Awareness Month

November 10, 2021

Diabetes Awareness Month Denver Health

Focus on Reversing Prediabetes and Preventing Diabetes Through Screenings

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and the focus this year is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes.

Facts About Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in three U.S. adults has prediabetes – that’s 88 million people – but the majority of people don't know they have it.

The National Institutes of Health has this advice – small steps can make a big difference. Prediabetes is reversible and with the right lifestyle changes, people who have prediabetes can prevent getting type 2 diabetes.

Your provider can tell you if you have prediabetes through an A1C blood test, also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test. It is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. It's one of the commonly used tests to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes and is also the main test to help you and your health care team manage your diabetes. Higher A1C levels are linked to diabetes complications, so reaching and maintaining your individual A1C goal is really important if you have diabetes. The CDC has more information about the different tests available for diabetes.

Prediabetes Risk Factors

There are several factors that put you at higher risk for getting prediabetes:

  • Age 40 or over
  • Having a Body Mass Index (BMI) that is considered overweight or obese
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Medical conditions such as high blood pressure
  • Sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough physical exercise (at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day is recommended)

If you have one or more of these risk factors, ask your doctor about getting an A1C screening test for prediabetes.

What to Do If You Have Prediabetes

If you are found to have prediabetes through an A1C screening test and your provider's diagnosis, there are things you can do to lower the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and even reverse prediabetes. 

Denver Health has a Diabetes Prevention Program that can help with lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, physical activity and managing stress. Ask your provider for a referral to the program or call 303-602-2142 for more information. Denver Health can also help with medications to control your prediabetes and medical nutrition therapy. There are both in-person and virtual options available for the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Living Well With Diabetes

If you are one of the 30.3 million people in the U.S. who already has type 2 diabetes, talk with your doctor and follow this simple checklist to make sure you are living your healthiest life, avoiding complications and managing your disease as best you can:

  • Take an A1C blood test every three months if your A1C is above the recommended normal goal or every six months if you are at or below the goal (An A1C below 5.7 percent is normal, between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates you have prediabetes, and 6.5 percent or higher indicates you have diabetes)
  • Get a yearly eye exam to look for eye problems caused by diabetes; Denver Health now offers a yearly retinal camera screening during your primary care visit, cutting down on an extra visit to the eye clinic
  • Take an annual urine test to checks for kidney damage or Chronic Kidney Disease (affecting one in three diabetics)
  • Get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19; diabetes makes it harder for your immune system to fight infections and vaccines will protect it

Taking your diabetes medicine, keeping your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg, controlling your cholesterol, not smoking, eating less sugar and salt and more fruits and vegetables and getting more physical activity in each day all can go a long way in helping you feel your best.

Your primary care provider can help you with all of these screenings and getting a vaccine. To make an appointment, avoid wait times and use the free MyChart app or call 303-436-4949 (*long wait times are possible when making an appointment over the phone).