Diabetes – What You Need To Know
Diabetes is very common in Canada, but is also a very serious illness that could have severe consequences if it isn’t properly managed. In many instances, diabetes can be controlled with the combined efforts of your healthcare team and your efforts to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In some instances diabetes can be prevented altogether, or the progression of the illness towards serious outcomes like kidney disease or failure, or amputation can be slowed or stopped.
Diabetes and the Body
Diabetes is an illness that prevents your body from being able to use the sugars that they digest as part of their diet. Diabetes can prevent the release of insulin, or reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin, an important hormone that lets the cells use the sugars. Without sugars, the entire body has no energy to operate and can be serious damaged, while the levels of sugars that accumulate in the blood can cause harm to the cardiovascular system.
Managing Risks and Managing Diabetes
Diabetics are often given medications to manage their illness and could even need to inject themselves with insulin when their bodies can’t produce it. Medical intervention with medications can be important and lifesaving, but are only part of the treatment plan for diabetes. Factors like diet and exercise are incredibly important for those with chronic illnesses like diabetes. They can sometimes even be a leading treatment option for some people affected by diabetes. Living a healthy life and reducing other unhealthy stresses on the body is a good choice for anyone, at any age – it is the best first line of defence against developing diabetes and also for taking proactive control against the illness.
Breaking it Down – Diabetes by the Numbers
Learning more about diabetes is important as it is such a common illness. Here are some of the basics about diabetes in Canada:*
- About 3.4 million people in Canada are living with Diabetes. 1 in 10 adults have some type of diabetes.
- 200,000 Canadians are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year.
- Nearly 1 in 10 adult deaths are attributable to diabetes
- Those with diabetes are three times more likely to die of heart disease
- One third of amputations performed in Canada were due to complications of diabetes
- Some people are more at risk than others. People that are overweight, older, or low income, those that have uncontrolled blood pressure or cholesterol, and those of South Asian, Asian, African, Hispanic or Aboriginal descent are more at risk.
- Over 60% of Canadian Adults are overweight or obese – making them much higher risk for developing diabetes. Almost one third of Canadian children and adolescents are overweight or obese.
*According to Diabetes Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation
Protect Yourself and Your Family
Many people are unwilling to speak about and share their experiences with diabetes because they are afraid of a stigma that could go with disclosing this medical information. Diabetes is an incredibly prevalent illness in Canada that should be talked about so that everyone is educated about the risks and how they can keep themselves healthy.
While some factors like genetics or ethnicity are impossible to change, some of the most important contributing factors towards diabetes like diet, weight, exercise, blood pressure, and cholesterol are entirely in your control. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle not only protects you and your family from developing complications with diabetes, but it is an important step to live healthier lives that are at less risk of many other diseases, too. Your health is in your hands and starts with making healthy decisions today and every day to prevent and manage various possible health problems. Your family doctor and healthcare team are always ready to help educate and support you and your family in your efforts to live healthier lives, starting today.