Up to 74 million Americans are walking around with
undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes, putting them at risk for a wide range of dangerous
complications, from a heart attack or stroke to Alzheimer’s disease (which has
been called “type
3 diabetes”) and even pancreatic cancer.
In fact, it’s very common for people to find out that they
have the blood sugar disease after they’ve already suffered a heart attack or
stroke, reports Bradley Bale, MD,
medical director of the Heart Health Program for Grace Clinic in Lubbock, Texas.
chalk this double whammy up to bad luck or coincidence, but actually, about 70
percent of heart attacks have the same root cause as type 2 diabetes: insulin
resistance,” says Dr. Bale.
The good news,
however, is that if diabetes is detected and treated early, not only can
serious complications—including heart attacks and strokes—be prevented, but in
some cases, it’s even possible to reverse the disease itself, adds Dr. Bale.
Insulin resistance is also the #1 cause of high blood
pressure (a reading of 140/90 or higher), a problem that now affects 67 million
Americans, 36 million of whom don’t have their condition under control, as
I recently reported. Another 67 million have prehypertension (a reading of
120/80 or higher), which can also herald insulin resistance.
waistline, even if your weight is normal
Having a big belly and
apple-shaped body is the leading indicator of insulin resistance. For men, the
danger zone is a waist measurement of more than 40 inches, and for women, more
than 35 inches. Research suggests that the best way to banish
belly fat and improve
insulin sensitivity is interval training several times a week.
People with periodontal disease are likely to have increasingly abnormal results on blood sugar tests, compared to those without gum disease, even when other diabetes risk factors were taken into an account, according to a 5-year study of nearly 3,000 adults.
2012 analysis of 13 prior studies reports that hearing impairment is up to
2.6 times more common in diabetics than those without the disease. The
researchers suggest that high blood sugar, which damages nerves and blood
vessels throughout the body, may explain the link.
In women, recurring yeast infections rank as one of the
leading early signs of diabetes, mainly because sugar makes it easier for
bacteria to proliferate. Women with diabetes may also have more vaginal or
urinary tract infections. Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal are another
This lipid abnormality is frequently associated with insulin
resistance and diabetes. Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol are also a risk
Intense Hunger or Thirst
Both of these symptoms, along with increased urination, are classic signs of diabetes. However, these may not occur during the early stages, cautions Dr. Bale.
You Feel Fine
Diabetes can be a stealthy condition, adds Dr. Bale. “Symptoms may
not start until relatively late in the disease when it’s already done silent,
possibly irreversible damage, so the best way to tell if your blood sugar is
high to get a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test, the gold standard of accuracy
for diagnosis. If you think you don’t have time for a 2-hour test to find out
if you’re at risk, do you have time to have diabetes 24 hours a day?”