By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Doctors can't tell you when you will die. But, depending on where you live, they can actually give you a pretty good prediction of what you will die from. They can achieve this feat because countries differ dramatically in the type of causes of death their citizens experience. In the United States and the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, for example, heart disease has been the leading cause of death for almost every year in the past 100 years except for 1918, when the leading cause of death was the worldwide flu pandemic, and the years of the World Wars. So, if you are living in a country where the biggest threat to your longevity is heart disease, you might be interest in knowing that one disease --- diabetes --- is the single largest risk factor for heart disease?
If you are a woman with diabetes, your risk for heart disease is 3.3 times higher than it is for a woman without diabetes. If you are man with diabetes, your risk for developing heart disease is 1.8 times higher than it is for a man without diabetes.
Clearly, it would be helpful to know how to avoid developing the deadly disease that is Type 2 diabetes. Which health problems predict who will get diabetes?
Scientists now know the answers.
Your Risk for Diabetes Climbs If Your Systolic Blood Pressure is Above 158
Scientists have plotted the number of cases of diabetes against the systolic blood pressure (that's the top number of a blood pressure reading). What they found is that "158" is the magic number.
The 2017 study, led by Dr. David Kuchner of the Centers for Disease Control, found that blood pressure follows a curve in predicting diabetes. First, your risk for diabetes declines for any systolic blood pressure numbers below 125 mmHG.
Between 125 mmHG and 158 mmHG, there is no increase in your diabetes risk.
But above 158 mmHG, your risk for diabetes spikes.
Getting Just 29 Minutes of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity Lowers Your Diabetes Risk
People often believe that they need to hit the gym for hours a day to lower their risk for serious diseases like diabetes. But here's the good news. You only need to move for just 29 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day to bend down the curve on your risk for diabetes.
That's the surprising finding from the CDC study.
What counts as moderate to vigorous physical activity? Walking to and from the bus, subway, train, walking up stairs, housework, and of course any time you spend working out, jogging, hiking, doing yoga, exercising at home or in the gym, as well as dancing.
Get 7 Hours of Sleep Per Night
We all know that getting a good night's sleep is important to our mental and physical health. But most of us don't manage to clock a full, restful 8 hours of sleep per night.
The CDC study found that, when it comes to affecting your risk for diabetes, you need 7 hours of restful sleep.
Unfortunately, many people in the US do not get enough sleep. Part of the reason is that Americans routinely find themselves at the top of the rankings for teh most productive workers on Earth. We cannot easily turn off the work focus even after we get home. Most of us stay connected by e-mail to the job and available fro calls from the office. Some of us even take our work to bed, squeezing in last minute tasks before we turn out the lights.
All of this never-ending focus on work wreaks havoc with our sleep.
The bottom line is this -- you have to prioritize sleep to maintain your health. Protect your sleep routines. Turn off electronics; Wind down starting an hour or two before bedtime. Stretch or do yoga. drink chamomile tea. Ban the TV from the bedroom. Change the pillows and perhaps even the mattress to cut down on allergic reactions that can cause snoring and rob you of a restful sleep.
Do whatever you can to squeeze in more quality, restful sleep and you will lower your risk for developing diabetes.