Diabetes Cuts Lifespan, But Exercise Increases It

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People with Type 2 diabetes get heart disease about eight years earlier than people with different risk factors, and also lose about eight years from their expected life span, according to the findings that come from analyzing data of the Framingham Heart Study, that wealth of data from more than 5,000 men and women studied every two years since 1951. The good news, according to health officials at the Georgia Department of Resources (DHR), is that these effects can be lessened or even prevented in some cases.

"People who are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing five to seven percent of their body weight through increased physical activity and a reduction in fat and calorie intake," said Stuart Brown, M.D., director for DHR's Division of Public Health. "The data from the Framingham Study revealed a significant effect of diabetes, which is that people with diabetes live approximately eight years less than people without it. Diabetes is provoking early heart disease in these people."

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is necessary for allowing the body to use sugar. Sugar, or glucose, is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause serious health problems.

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"Because diabetes is a serious disease that can decrease one's life span, it is important to educate Georgians that moderate lifestyle changes can lead to significant health improvements," said Brown. "Becoming more physically active and eating a healthy diet can help to manage and prevent diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease," said Brown.

For every two people who know they have diabetes, there is a third person who doesn' t know that he or she has it. According to the American Diabetes Association, before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "pre-diabetes." Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Public Health leaders want to raise awareness of the symptoms of diabetes so that we can identify those Georgians who are undiagnosed. Anyone experiencing one or more of these symptoms should see a doctor and get tested immediately.

Symptoms of diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in Georgia, include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, increased fatigue, blurry vision, slow healing of wounds, frequent infections, irritability, tingling and numbness in hands and feet, and unusual weight loss or gain.

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