3 Lesser-Known Risk Factors for Type II Diabetes

3 Lesser-Known Risk Factors for Type II DiabetesPatients who have type II diabetes end up with high blood sugar because their body does not make enough insulin, the hormone that triggers body cells to remove sugar from the blood stream. Some patients with type II diabetes do make plenty of insulin, but their body’s cells have become resistant to it.

In either case, type II diabetes can have lasting effects on the body — such as vision damage, kidney damage, and nerve damage — particularly if untreated or poorly treated. Many people know that being overweight and eating too much sugar can increase their risk of developing type II diabetes, but these are not the only risk factors. Here are three lesser-known risk factors that you should be aware of.

1. Ethnicity

Some people are at a higher risk for type II diabetes than others simply because of their heritage. Researchers do not know which genes, specifically, determine who will develop type II diabetes, but there do seem to be genetic factors at play.

Type II diabetes is more common in Native Americans, Alaska Natives, non-Hispanic Black Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans than in those of European descent. Furthermore, when African Americans and Hispanic Americans develop diabetes, their symptoms and long-term effects tend to be worse than those of non-Hispanic whites.

So what should you do if you are genetically at an increased risk for diabetes? You can’t change your genes, but you can maintain a healthy weight and stay active. Also, visit your doctor for regular screening appointments. This way, if you do develop diabetes, your doctor will detect it early when treatment is best able to prevent lasting harm.

2. High Blood Pressure

People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop diabetes than those with healthy blood pressure. According to Medical News Today, high blood pressure can worsen the effects of diabetes, leading to more serious cardiovascular disease and kidney problems. The combination of high blood sugar levels and an increased pressure in your blood vessels weakens their walls.

One major problem is that high blood pressure often goes undiagnosed because it rarely causes symptoms. You can measure your blood pressure at home or at a pharmacy to see whether it is in the normal range. If your top number (systolic blood pressure) is over 120, or your bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is over 80, see your doctor. They can more precisely monitor your blood pressure to see if it is truly elevated.

If you do have high blood pressure, doing more exercise, losing weight, eating less salt, and perhaps taking a prescription medication can lower it — thereby also reducing your risk for type II diabetes.

3. Low HDL Levels

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is a type of cholesterol. It is colloquially known as good cholesterol since a higher level of HDL is known to protect against heart disease.

Research has found that low HDL levels also increase your risk of diabetes, and that raising your HDL level can protect against diabetes. Men should aim for an HDL level of 40 mg/dL or higher, and women should aim for 50 mg/dL or higher.

Most people can raise their HDL levels by improving their diets and getting more exercise. High-intensity exercise, like interval training, seems to be most effective.  You can also eat more olive oil, purple-colored produce, and fatty fish — and avoid trans fats — to boost HDL, which helps fight type II diabetes. 

Type II diabetes is a serious ailment. If you have any of the risk factors above, make sure your doctor closely monitors your blood sugar levels. Work with your doctor on strategies to further reduce your risk, and be on the lookout for symptoms like increased thirst, fatigue, and blurred vision, which can indicate you’re developing diabetes.

If you’re looking for a new doctor to help oversee your health, contact Stellis Health. Our knowledgeable physicians will be happy to discuss your concerns about diabetes and any other ailment.