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November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Navinder Jassil 2
Navinder Jassil, MD, Endocrinologist

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and endocrinologist Navinder Jassil, MD, has some important advice to share.

“There are recommendations for diabetes screenings,” she said. “Just as people get their routine mammograms and colonoscopies, so too should they be thinking of checking for diabetes. Overweight or obese people ages 35-70 years old should be screened for pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. We used to start screenings  at age 40, but we now know that early diagnosis is a key for optimal health. Diabetes has become a severe problem in our country, and catching it early can make a huge difference.”

Pre-diabetes is a serious health condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have pre-diabetes—that’s 88 million people—but the majority of people don’t even  know they have it.

Left untreated diabetes can have severe complications, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye damage
  • Skin conditions and slow-healing wounds
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • AND, diabetes is a known risk factor for serious complications from COVID-19

Early Warning Signs

Dr. Jassil noted that many people are not even aware they are pre-diabetic, or have diabetes, until they are experiencing serious health problems. “There are a number of warning signs that should raise a red flag.” These include:

  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Craving sweets
  • Not feeling at peak—weakness, brain fog

Small Changes, Big Rewards

The good news, added Dr. Jassil, is that by making small healthy lifestyle changes, it is possible to prevent Type 2 diabetes and even reverse your pre-diabetes.

“Making healthier lifestyle choices – eating better and increasing physical activity – can make a big difference. Keeping tabs on how many carbs you are eating, adding more veggies and protein into your diet, and losing weight are the very best pre-diabetic tactics to follow. If however, you do become diabetic, you should work closely with your doctor to monitor your blood sugar, keep track of your numbers and goals, including your A1C, and if you are prescribed medicine, make sure you take it!”

“If you are overweight or obese, or have any other early warning signs, you should have a diabetes screening. It is a simple blood test that can really make a difference in preventing diabetes in the future.”

Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, NJ is an 89-bed teaching hospital that specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, research, and treatment of heart, lung, and vascular diseases. Founded in 1922, Deborah has been a regional and nationally recognized leader throughout its 100-year history, during which time it has healed 2.3 million patients from every corner of the United States and 87 countries in the world. From performing the first open heart surgeries (adult and pediatric) in New Jersey, to running one of the highest volume left-ventricular assist device (LVAD) implant programs in the region, Deborah has stood at the forefront of medical innovation, all while never wavering from its founding mission “there is no price on life.” Deborah is consistently recognized as a leader in patient care from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ranked among the top hospitals in New Jersey for patient satisfaction; holds a top-tier Society of Thoracic Surgeons rating which places Deborah among the best cardiac surgery programs in the country; and is designated a national Top Teaching Hospital by The Leapfrog Group. Deborah is an Alliance member of the Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute.