According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 23.6 million children and adults in the United States, or 7.8% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 5.7 million people (or nearly one quarter) are unaware that they have the disease.

In Arkansas, diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death. Eight to ten percent of the population in each of Pope, Conway and Yell counties lives with the disease.

The term “metabolic syndrome” has been widely used in research to refer to a combination of related health factors that, when they appear together, create a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. The value of the term is that it alerts both patient and physician that heart disease and diabetes, two seemingly disparate ailments, actually share common triggers.

“If you have metabolic syndrome or any of the components of metabolic syndrome, you have the opportunity to make aggressive lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Turner. “Making these changes can delay or derail the development of serious diseases.”

Most people with diabetes have health problems – or risk factors – such as high blood pressure and cholesterol that increase one’s risk for heart disease and stroke. When combined with diabetes, these risk factors add up to big trouble. With diabetes, you are two to four times more likely to die of a heart attack. In fact, more than 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. In the U.S., diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness in people ages 20 – 74, kidney failure and limb amputation. It is easy to become overwhelmed by diabetes and all that comes along with it, but it is possible to break that mind set and realize that preventing diabetes, or living successfully with the disease is achievable.