THURSDAY, Nov. 11, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the United States, and Americans need to know the risk factors and what they can do to prevent and treat the disease, says the American College of Physicians.
"Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause serious complications, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney failure and nervous system damage," ACP President Dr. J. Fred Ralston said in a college news release marking American Diabetes Month in November.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include: being over age 45; having a family history of diabetes; being overweight; lack of physical activity; having had gestational diabetes; having high blood pressure or high cholesterol; being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander.
"It is important to know the risk factors and warning signs of diabetes and what you can do to treat the disease if you have it," Ralston said.
Diabetes warning signs may include: extreme thirst and/or hunger; fatigue; frequent need to urinate; unusual weight loss; blurred vision; tingling or numbness in hands or feet; frequent infections; and slow-healing bruises.
A simple blood test can diagnose diabetes.
Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes can keep the disease under control by: exercising regularly; eating a healthy diet high in vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry and whole grains; losing weight; checking blood sugar levels and reporting them to their doctor; and taking medications every day.
The ACP Diabetes Portal (http://diabetes.acponline.org/) offers patients the latest evidence-based information about diabetes.
The U.S. National Diabetes Education Program has more about diabetes prevention.