This week the United States Preventive Services Taskforce (USPSTF) issued new recommendations on pre-diabetes and diabetes screening, lowering the starting age of screening to 35 years old for those who are overweight or obese. Previously it was recommended at 40 years old.
“This is a welcome new recommendation,” said Navinder Jassil, MD, Director of Endocrinology and Diabetes Services, Deborah Specialty Physicians. “Diabetes is often a silent, undiagnosed disease, and as it quietly does its work in the body, it creates significant health problems that often are unnoticed until it becomes much more difficult to treat them. If we are able to catch people with pre-diabetes and diabetes earlier, we can make a significant impact on their overall health outcomes.”
Dr. Jassil noted that the assessment and screening for diabetes is fairly simple. “First we determine your body mass index (BMI) based on your height and weight. If your ‘number’ is above 25, signaling you are overweight, or above 30, making you obese, you qualify for the diabetes screening, which is a fasting blood test to measure your glucose level.”
She added that the CDC has very stark numbers on diabetes in the country. “The CDC’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report estimates 13% of all US adults have diabetes and 34.5% meet criteria for pre-diabetes. The prevalence is higher in older adults. Of those with diabetes, 21.4% were not aware of having diabetes, and only 15.3% of those with pre-diabetes reported being told by a health professional that they had this condition.”
The CDC also reports diabetes as the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among U.S. adults and it is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and is estimated as the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. (in 2017).
“Plus we all have heard about the epidemic in our country of people who are overweight, and Covid-19 has made us all aware that co-morbidities like obesity and diabetes make people more vulnerable to severe illnesses and makes it harder to fight off infections.”
Dr. Jassil urges those who fit the criteria to schedule an appointment to get a diabetes screening. “Early intervention is the key. If you are at risk of diabetes, lifestyle changes for diet and exercise, combined with close monitoring with your doctor, and keeping an eye on your numbers like your glucose levels and A1C can make a big difference in controlling diabetes.”
And for all ages, Dr. Jassil recommends that if you are experiencing some of the symptoms of diabetes, you should definitely see a doctor. “If you start noticing that you are thirstier, urinating more, craving sweets, and not feeling at your peak or having weakness or brain fog, you should get it checked out.”
“Diabetes can really devastate someone. This recommendation for earlier screening should be a wake-up call for those at risk to get their levels checked as soon as possible.”
For more information, visit www.DeborahSpecialists.com