The first step to good diabetes management is knowing whether you have it, so it's important to get screened if you have any diabetes risk factors.
The earlier you get screened, the better the outcome will be. If you have prediabetes, early diagnosis and treatment may actually prevent it from progressing to type 2 diabetes. But if you wait too long, you will not be able to stop its progression.
4 risk factors for diabetes and prediabetes
1. Are you overweight or obese?
If you are overweight or obese, you're not alone—two out of three American adults are. But this puts you at serious risk of several conditions that impact your heart and metabolic health, including diabetes. In fact, being overweight or obese is the best predictor of developing the condition.
Talk to your doctor about being screened for diabetes or prediabetes if you are overweight or obese, and remember this is not a fixed risk factor. You can lose weight, and if you do, your risk of diabetes will decrease. Even a small weight loss helps reduce your chances of getting diabetes; you don't need to become a marathon runner to get healthier. A series of small changes can have a big impact.
2. Does anyone in your family have diabetes?
A family history of diabetes means you'll need to pay attention to your own risk factors. If any of your first-degree relatives—that is, parents or siblings—has diabetes, you should be screened regularly.
3. Did you have gestational diabetes?
Women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at a high risk of developing diabetes later on in their lives. There is also a risk of diabetes that exists for women who have delivered a baby weighing nine pounds or more. Hopefully, you're already monitoring your risk if you had gestational diabetes, but if not, make sure to tell your doctor so you can work together to maintain your health.
4. Do you have high blood pressure?
Hypertension is a big risk factor for diabetes. This means your blood pressure is 140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher. If you're not sure whether you have hypertension, it's easy to check with your doctor or even at a pharmacy with a blood pressure machine.
Lifestyle changes can help you lower your blood pressure, just as they can help you lose weight. This is a risk factor for diabetes that is under your control to at least some extent, which means you should consult your doctor and make a plan to get your blood pressure back into a healthy range. Medication may be necessary.