On August 24th, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) lowered the age limit for prediabetes screening and type 2 diabetes screening from the age of 40 to the age of 35. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and also results in a plethora of serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, stroke, and nerve damage. With the nation’s diabetes rates worsening every year– especially during the COVID-19 pandemic– new guidance rules needed to be put into place.
Why will lowering the screening age by five years help? This change was enforced to hopefully lessen the number of people with progressing health issues due to diabetes. This is a critical, time-sensitive period for those young adults who may be overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of diabetes. Earlier screening propagates the development of healthy living and necessary medical interventions earlier on, thus preventing diabetes before it can truly begin. Due to the lack of clear symptoms for prediabetes, there may be no noticeable signs of having it until completing a full test.
The Theory Behind the Change
More than one in three Americans have prediabetes without realizing it. Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than the average person’s, but does not result in harm to the body’s insulin response. Since there is usually a spike in prediabetes at a young age, averaging about 35-40 years old, changing the screening age limit to 35 will likely increase the number of young Americans who are aware of their condition and still able to prevent its full progression.
According to this article, if you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you will not automatically develop type 2 diabetes. The progression from prediabetes to diabetes is avoidable, however, it is estimated that about 70% of prediabetics will develop signs of type 2 diabetes. For the individuals with prediabetes who catch it early, professional treatments and lifestyle changes can return blood sugar levels to the normal range. Changes such as maintaining a healthier diet, exercising more frequently, and losing a little weight, if needed, can help slow and prevent diabetes.
There are ways to avoid becoming a part of the growing number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes each year. Early screenings for prediabetes starting at age 35 may be the first step in taking preventative action to improve your health and avoid a full-blown diabetes diagnosis. As always, you should consult with a trusted healthcare physician about undergoing diabetic screenings before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle, diet, or medications.
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