Diabetes and hypertension are two major health threats to people throughout the world. Data from the National Diabetes 2011 Fact Sheet indicate that there are 7 million people in the US with diabetes who are undiagnosed. At this time there are over 25 million individuals who have diabetes in the United States alone. Screening for these two particular disorders are large factors in the early prevention and treatment of illnesses that often results in significant negative medical complications. (1)
In some cases diabetes is not found until the sufferer experiences a complication or it is found during a routine screening blood test. However, because of recent media attention and increased education of the middle-aged population, more individuals recognize the signs and symptoms of this progressive disease. If the disease is not recognized until the latter stages, then significant damage can have been done to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart muscle. These complications are costly financially, emotionally and relationally.
Early Dectection and Treatment
Early detection and treatment for diabetes will help improve the control of blood glucose and improve the control of lipids and blood pressure. Researchers have found that individuals who suffer from diabetes have a greater risk of also experiencing hypertension. (2)
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is another of the major health threats to individuals. Hypertension is the medical term used for high blood pressure which can result from damage to the kidneys, heart, liver and also increases the risk of stroke to the individual.
Individuals who have diagnosis of diabetes or hypertension should be routinely screened for the other condition. Unfortunately people who suffer from hypertension are more likely to experience diabetes than those people who don’t experienced hypertension at all.
Screening tests should also be done on individuals who have a family history of diabetes, those who are overweight, those over 45 and those who have known hyperlipidemia, or increased lipids in the blood stream, such as cholesterol.
Women and Complicated Births
Women who have had a history of gestational diabetes, or the delivery of an infant over 9 pounds, are also at higher risk for diabetes and subsequently hypertension. The screening tests used are a quick dip stick evaluating protein in the urine or a blood pressure measurement. Patients who are spilling protein in their urine have a greater chance of having renal damage which can have resulted from either diabetes or hypertension.
A fasting blood sugar is the standard test for diabetes. This is a simple blood test which is taken after eight hours of complete fasting. Most individuals are told to stop eating after midnight in the blood tests is taken sometime after 8 a.m. the next morning, prior to breakfast, coffee or any other intake. This test is reliable but it does require a follow-up test if the test indicates that there is a problem with elevated blood sugar. (3)
A more extensive test to evaluate the diagnosis of diabetes is called the oral glucose tolerance test. During this test the patient is asked to drink a product that contains 75 g of glucose after having fasted for eight hours. Patients should be cautious when drinking this material since many find themselves vomiting after introducing something with this high sugar content into their stomachs after having eaten nothing else. (4)
Blood samples are then taken every half-hour and the urine is also tested every hour. This test is a measurement of the body’s response to a high load of glucose. The results of this test will help the physician determine a diagnosis of diabetes as well as give a good indication of how much insulin or oral hypoglycemic the individual should start with.
If an individual already has the diagnosis of diabetes then a glycosylated hemoglobin, or hemoglobin A1 C, is drawn to determine the severity of the diabetes over a period of time. This test is usually drawn every six months to get an accurate picture of the previous six months of glucose control. (5)
Screening for hypertension is much simpler and involves only doing a blood pressure test while sitting or standing. At the same time the individual may be screened for heart disease that can include a blood test for cholesterol, an EKG and chest x-ray..
These screenings for diabetes and hypertension can successfully be done at health fairs and doctors offices. It is especially important for individuals who have risk factors to understand those factors and how lifestyle choices may help prevent illness.
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