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Diabetes: The Other “Silent Killer”

Source: USA Weekend, March 10-12, 2006

Undetected, It Ravages Bodies In An Unfettered Fashion

High blood pressure long has been referred to as the “silent killer,” because patients suffering from the illness often don’t realize they have a problem until their organs are seriously damaged. Like high blood pressure, diabetes is a disease that sneaks up on millions of Americans. It’s increasingly recognized as a major cause of death and disability, yet many who suffer from diabetes are unaware they even have it until they experience a debilitating side effect of the disease.

This disorder damages many tissues. Most complications involve the cardiovascular system (heart disease and stroke, for example). Other problems caused by diabetes include blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, impotence, amputations, inability to fight infection and complications in pregnancy (including birth defects). The trouble is, because many aren’t aware they even have diabetes, the illness damages the body in an unfettered fashion before being discovered.

Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of the disease. Those at higher risk include elderly people, people with a family history of diabetes and overweight folks. Certain ethnic groups, such as Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans and those of Pacific Island heritage, also are at higher risk. The good news: Diabetes responds nicely to behavior modification.