Type 2 Diabetes
What it is: Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which your body fails to properly convert glucose (sugar) in the food you eat to energy. You may not make enough insulin to unlock your cells and let glucose in, or your insulin may not be working effectively.
Why it's important: Excess glucose can damage vessels and lead to complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage and blindness. Uncontrolled diabetes can increase the risk of infections and can lead to amputation.
What test you need: A blood test called hemoglobin A1C will measure your average blood sugar levels for the last two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. Your doctor also may require a blood sugar test with samples taken at random times, or a fasting blood sugar test.
What is normal: A hemoglobin A1C of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests suggests you could have diabetes. A normal fasting blood sugar should be between 70 and 100 mg/dL; if it is over 126 mg/dL, your doctor will likely diagnose diabetes.
When you should be tested: Get tested if you have symptoms, a body mass index of higher than 29, or a history of heart disease or a close relative with type 2 diabetes. If you have no symptoms, screening should begin at age 45.
Where to be tested: Your primary care doctor can order tests for diabetes and treat it, but you also may need to see an endocrinologist, who specializes in treating diabetes and other endocrine system diseases.