Diabetes Types

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Family History

Heredity plays a large part in the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes, your chances of developing the disease double. And there is a concordance rate of up to 90 percent among identical twins with type 2, meaning that in up to 90 percent of cases where one twin has the disease, the other one develops it as well. The good news for those with diabetes in their family tree is that large scale studies such as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) have proved that prevention is often possible through diet, exercise, and other moderate lifestyle changes.

Hypertension and Cholesterol Levels

Hypertension, or blood pressure higher than 140j90mmHg, is both a possible complication of type 2 diabetes and a risk factor for the development of the disease. A large-scale study of over 12,000 patients published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 found that people with diagnosed hypertension were 2.5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with normal blood pressure levels. In addition, that study and others have shown a correlation between beta-blockers, a medication used to treat high blood pressure, and an increased risk of type 2. Triglyceride levels over 250 mg/dl and levels of HDL (or "good cholesterol") under 35 mg/ dl put you at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. HDL acts as a lubricant for the circulatory system, moving the other lipids through the blood vessels and into the liver for metabolism. It helps to prevent the buildup of fatty plaque that can otherwise clog the arteries, resulting in atherosclerosis and consequently high blood pressure. Elevated triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease as well.

Gestational Diabetes and Perinatal Risk Factors

Women who had gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during their pregnancy are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, statistically, between 20 and 50 percent of women with a history of GDM will go on to develop type 2 within five to ten years after giving birth. Giving birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds is also considered a risk factor for later development of type 2. Studies have also associated a low birth weight with a child's increased risk for type 2 later in life, possibly due to poor fetal nutrition. And high birth weights have been linked to type 2 in several studies as well, although the evidence is currently mixed on whether this is a reliable marker of type 2 risk.

E Alert

Women who have a history of gestational diabetes should be vigilant about regular testing for diabetes (once every three years if their glucose levels are normal postpartum, annually if they are not).