Diabetes is a disease in which levels of glucose in the blood are above normal. In type 2 diabetes, cells in the muscles, liver and fat do not use insulin (a hormone used by cells to process glucose for energy) properly. Over time, levels of glucose in the blood become higher, while cells in the body become starved for energy. Type 2 diabetes can damage nerves and blood vessels, and may lead to complications, such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputation (NIDDKD, 2004).
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include: overweight; lack of exercise; parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes; African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino family background; or blood pressure of 140/90 or higher. While more common in older adults, type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, even childhood. Weight carried in the abdomen (“apple-shaped” figure) appears to be related to a predisposition to develop type 2 diabetes. Similarly, a dark rash or ring of pigmentation on the neck or other skin creases indicates that a predisposition to type 2 diabetes may exist.
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This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.