Air Force study looks at diabetes and heart disease prevention Published March 5, 2009 By Athena Martinez Diabetes Prevention Education Specialist LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 21st Annual American Diabetes Alert Day is March 24. This is a "wake-up" call to save your life. Diabetes affects nearly 24 million children and adults in the US. Approximately one-fourth, or 5.7 million, of these people do not know they have diabetes. This is why it is considered a "silent killer." One in five Americans is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The seven most common risk factors are being over 45 years of age; race or ethnic background (African Americans, Latinos,and Native Americans have a higher incidence); family history of diabetes; being very overweight; low level of physical activity; high blood pressure (or taking blood pressure medications); and a history of diabetes during pregnancy. Take a free diabetes risk test by calling 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383), or visit the web site at www.diabetes.org/alert. Symptoms of diabetes are urinating often, being very thirsty, being more tired than usual, unusual weight loss, being very hungry and blurry vision. Individuals who have a combination of these symptoms, should contact their doctor as soon as possible. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, foot and skin problems, nerve damage, depression, eye problems, blindness, and kidney problems. Wilford Hall Medical Center is conducting research on diabetes and heart disease prevention, in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Those who qualify will be able to participate in a 12-week group lifestyle program that will focus on exercise, balanced nutrition and healthy lifestyle behavior choices. Call 292-2842 for more information.