Agassiz and Harrison could see significant rise in diabetes

Getting blood sugars under control big key to preventing disease

Diabetes is a serious chronic condition affecting the body’s ability to produce and/or to use insulin properly. Even when well treated, diabetes can lead to a number of disabling or life-threatening complications. According to the most recent Fraser Health profile of the Agassiz/Harrison health area, over 6% of the population has been identified as being diabetic. In just the last year, 82 new cases were diagnosed. It is projected that this area, like others in Canada, will see a significant rise in new diagnoses by the end of the decade.

Many more people (about 1 in 5) are pre-diabetic and do not know it. This number is of concern because many people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes so having your blood glucose levels tested and learning about your risks is important.

To support you and your family in preventing or managing pre-diabetes, the Agassiz Community Health Centre will be hosting a public information day on Friday, November 7, 2014 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Recreation and Cultural Centre (formerly called the Fitness/Activity Centre), 6660 Pioneer Avenue. You will be able to have your blood glucose tested, have access to advice from health professionals, learn about activity programs available at the Fitness Centre and gather important information to take home and read.

Pre-diabetes is really an “early warning system”. It refers to blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but yet not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. That means a fasting blood glucose level of 7.0 mmol/L or higher. Nearly half of the people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. It is important to know if you have pre-diabetes because research has shown that some long-term complications associated with diabetes – such as heart disease and nerve damage – may begin during pre-diabetes.

The same factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increase the risk of developing pre-diabetes. Some of them are:

1) advancing age. Being 40 years of age and older.

2) extra weight. The more fatty tissue you have — around your abdomen — the more resistant your cells become to insulin.

3) inactivity. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.

4) family history. The risk of pre-diabetes increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.

5) race. Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian, or African — are more likely to develop pre-diabetes.

6) history of gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes mellitus when you were pregnant, your risk of later developing diabetes increases.

There’s good news, however. Pre-diabetes can be an opportunity for you to improve your health, because progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. With healthy lifestyle changes — such as eating healthy foods, including physical activity in your daily routine and maintaining a healthy weight — you may be able to bring your blood sugar level back to normal.

-Submitted by Agassiz Community Health.