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Sounding the Alarm about Diabetes in Kentucky

Men, people of color and older adults are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.(Alan Levine/Flickr)
Men, people of color and older adults are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
(Alan Levine/Flickr)
March 26, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Health care groups in Kentucky are sounding the alarm about the seriousness of diabetes.

Tomorrow is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and folks around the state are encouraged to learn more about the disease and find out if they are at risk. Health education manager for Passport Health Plan Lisa Bellafato explains that while diabetes is a manageable condition, it also can cause serious complications that affect the quality of life.

"Often here in Kentucky, we hear people say, 'Well, you know, I just have a little touch of the sugar,' ” she says. “But diabetes is really a serious disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin powers life, and it gives us that ability for the body cells to turn glucose or sugar into energy."

About 14 percent of Kentucky adults are estimated to have diabetes, and nearly 100,000 do not know it. Kentuckians are encouraged to assess their own risk for developing the disease by using a simple online screening test.

Bellafato says it's just seven questions, and folks should share it with their family and friends. It can be found online at diabetes.org/alertdayky.

Bellafato says doctors also are reminded about the need to speak with patients on a regular basis about diabetes risk factors.

"And especially, if one of their patients falls into what we call prediabetes, to say, 'Hey, this is important to know this. You're at risk for diabetes, but this is a point that you can really do something to make a difference so you're not moving towards that diagnosis of diabetes,' " she says.

Men, people of color and older adults are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Risk factors that can be controlled include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Bellafato notes that small lifestyle changes can help prevent and manage diabetes.

"If you're sitting for more than 60 minutes or so, just get up and move around, take the stairs, do some laps. Even if you're just watching TV, get up and march in place during commercials or something,” she says. “Any movement like that can really help us to control or prevent diabetes."

If left unchecked, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and lower limb loss.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY