Risk Factors, Prevention, and Treatment

Ethnicity is one significant contributing factor for diabetes as Hispanic, American Indian, African-American, and Pacific/Asian Islander women are at a two-to-four times greater risk than white females for diabetes.42 Being over age 45, having a family history of diabetes (parent or sibling), being overweight, having elevated cholesterol and having high blood pressure are other contributing factors for diabetes (Figure 7). Fortunately, adopting a healthier diet and increasing daily physical activity can significantly decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet and working on measures to control weight are important steps to take while focusing on an effective plan against diabetes. Relatively inexpensive blood testing can assist in an early and proper diagnosis.

Figure 7. Diabetes Risk Factors, Treatments, and Connections to Oral Health.
Image: Diabetes Risk Factors, Treatments, and Connections to Oral Health.

If diagnosed, diabetes can be controlled with minimal effect on quality of life. Insulin injections or an insulin pump is the common method of treating the Type 1 diabetic. (Glipizide) Glucotrol® or (Glyburide) Micronase® are hypoglycemic agents used to slow digestion of carbohydrates while (Metformin) Glucophage® is used to decrease blood glucose. These medications are commonly prescribed for treating the Type 2 diabetic. With CVD reported as a primary complication of diabetes, it is not unusual for a statin medication to be prescribed for the Type 2 diabetic patient. Blood pressure control and foot care are other vital interventions used in treating diabetes. Tobacco cessation is also an important consideration to avoid complications in diabetic-related cases. Important cost-saving interventions can include screenings for retinopathy, a condition known to cause blindness; blood lipid panels that assist in regulating cholesterol; and additional screenings to assist in early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease.

The WHO’s work focusing on population-wide strategies is aimed to promote healthy diets and regular physical activity, thereby attempting to reduce the global concern of overweight and obesity issues. In raising awareness regarding the global epidemic surrounding chronic diseases, healthier environments for the poor and disadvantaged populations can be created. A goal to reverse and even slow trends identified among common disease risk factors will prove beneficial in the prevention of premature deaths and potentially limit the enormous financial and medical burdens created by diabetes and other chronic conditions.