Preventing and Managing
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Consequently, a person may have high levels of blood sugar.

Who is at risk for diabetes?

  • Individuals with a family history of diabetes
  • Individuals who are overweight or obese
  • Individuals with hypertension
  • Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are at a greater risk of type 2 diabetes later in life

Types of Diabetes
  • Type 1 Diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) is an auto immune disease in which the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Also known as juvenile onset diabetes, type 1 diabetes accounts for 10-15% of all diabetics. It can appear at any age, although most commonly under 40.
  • Type 2 Diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes) is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 85-90% of all people with diabetes. Also known as late-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency.
  • Gestational Diabetes mellitus occurs during pregnancy and then usually goes away after the baby is born. Treatment is crucial because gestational diabetes can harm the developing fetus. Mothers who experience gestational diabetes are also at greatly increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. 
  • Pre-Diabetes is a condition that occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Studies show that many people with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

Causes of Diabetes
  • obesity
  • imbalanced diet (high fats and oils, low fruits and vegetables)
  • physical inactivity
Medical Health
  • high blood pressure
  • insulin deficiency
  • increasing age
  • type 1 diabetes may be inherited, though an environmental trigger is necessary
  • individuals with first-degree relatives with type 2 diabetes are at high risk
Environmental toxins (e.g. bisphenol A) are linked to the onset of diabetes

Signs and Symptoms

Diabetes can lead to an increased risk of developing foot problems. People with diabetes have special reasons to take care of their feet. With diabetes, excess sugar in the blood may damage the blood supply (Ischaemia) and the nerves (
neuropathy) in the feet.  When undetected and untreated, more severe complications may result.

Hypertension Basics

Of St. Lucian adults, aged 25-74 years: 
  • 26.9% are at the 140/90 mmHg threshold 
  • 18.3% are at the 160/95 mmHg threshold 
40% of Caribbean mortality results from cardiovascular diseases related to hypertension and diabetes.

What is

Hypertension is a common disorder in which blood pressure remains abnormally high (140/90 mmHg and above).  Hypertension is a chronic medical condition. 

Persistent hypertension is a risk factor for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, arterial aneurism, and renal failure. Life expectancy is reduced for persons with hypertension. 

Types of Hypertension 
  • Essential (Familial) Hypertension is the most common type of hypertension, affecting 90-95% of patients. Its cause is not completely identified and is commonly inherited.
  • Secondary Hypertension is prevalent in only 5-10% of patients. It is caused by endocrine diseases, kidney diseases, sleep apnea, thyroid and parathyroid disease. The use of some medication can also lead to hypertension, including: oral contraceptive pills, steroids, cocaine, licorice, sympathomimetics (medications found in certain cough syrups), and certain pain killers (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). 

Causes of Hypertension
  • genetics and a family history of hypertension 
  • diabetes type 1 and 2 
  • chronic kidney disease 
  • stress 
  • aging 
  • medicines (e.g. birth control pills, steroids) 
  • smoking 
  • sedentary lifestyle / lack of exercise 
  • high levels of salt intake 
  • obesity or being overweight 
  • insufficient calcium, potassium, magnesium, consumption 
  • lack of Vitamin D 
  • high levels of alcohol consumption 

Symptoms of Hypertension 
Most people do not have symptoms or signs of hypertension until it is very severe. These symptoms include: 
  • severe headaches 
  • fatigue or confusion 
  • dizziness 
  • nausea 
  • problems with vision 
  • chest pains 
  • breathing problems 
  • irregular heartbeat 
  • blood in the urine 
  • epistaxis (nose bleeding)

St. Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association,
1 Sep 2010, 08:20
St. Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association,
1 Sep 2010, 08:21