Diabetes: Are You At Risk?

Last Editorial Review: 2/25/2010

Do you have health risk factors for type 2 diabetes? The incidence of type 2 diabetes has doubled over the past three decades, according to the Framingham Heart Study. Although the causes of type 2 diabetes are unknown, there are some key risk factors. These health risk factors can increase your chances of getting this increasingly common type of diabetes.

It is estimated that 70 to 80 million Americans have insulin resistance syndrome -- a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In the health topic on insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome, we explain the combination of diseases caused by insulin resistance. Once you learn more about insulin resistance, you may want to initiate some of the recommended lifestyle changes that can help decrease your chances of getting this serious problem.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

A person with some or all of the following listed health risk factors may never develop type 2 diabetes. However, the latest medical findings show that the chances of getting type 2 diabetes increase the more health risk factors you have.

  • A family history of diabetes. If a parent or sibling in your family has diabetes, your risk of developing diabetes increases.
  • Age over 45. The chance of getting type 2 diabetes increases with age.
  • Race or ethnic background. The risk of type 2 diabetes is greater in Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans, and Asians.
  • Being overweight. If you are overweight, defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25, you're at higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Hypertension. High blood pressure increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels. HDL ("good") cholesterol levels under 35 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) and/or a triglyceride level over 250 mg/dL increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • History of gestational diabetes. Getting diabetes during pregnancy or delivering a baby over nine pounds can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Other health risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

WebMD Medical Reference

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ADA: "Diabetes Risk Test."
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Framingham Heart Study."
Sullivan, P. Diabetes Care, 2005; 28:1599.
Thorens, B. New England Journal of Medicine, 2006; 354:1636.
Stumvoll, M. Lancet, 2005; 365:1333. Fox, C. Circulation, 2006; 113:2914.

Reviewed by John A. Seibel, MD on February 25, 2010
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