Diabetes Terms to Know

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition, which leads to dark markings found typically around the neck, underarms or groin area. It is most often associated with obesity and may occur at any age.

Age-standardized rates are calculated using a technique called age-standardization which dampens the influence of the underlying difference in age distributions from each province or territory, enabling fairer comparisons among populations and over time. For example, before age-standardization, a province with an older population than another will have a higher prevalence of diabetes, all else being equal. Age-standardization reduces the effect of different age structures for comparisons across jurisdictions and time periods. This is useful for diseases, such as diabetes, where the prevalence rates differ significantly among age groups and increase with age. It should be noted though that the formula to calculate these rates uses the 1991 Canadian population based on census data.

Blood glucose is the main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy. The A1C blood test is used to measure a person's average blood glucose level over 2 to 3 months. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed based on elevated fasting blood glucose (7.0 millimole/litre (mmol/L) or greater).

Blood lipid is a term for fat in the blood stream, and is measured with a lipid profile blood test. The lipid profile test measures total cholesterol (the fat produced by the liver and found in some foods), triglycerides (the storage form of fat in the body), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (a fat molecule that takes extra cholesterol from the blood to the liver for removal), and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (a molecule that is a combination of fat and protein that takes excess cholesterol around the body to where it's needed, but excess ultimately rests on the inside of artery walls).

Blood pressure is the force of blood on the inside walls of blood vessels. It is measured by analyzing both the systolic blood pressure (top number), the pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries, and the diastolic blood pressure (bottom number), when the heart relaxes between beats.

Diabetic retinopathy is diabetic eye disease that results from damage to the small blood vessels in the retina, the back part of the eye that contains the cells that respond to light. It may lead to loss of eyesight. Laser therapy, one possible treatment option, uses a strong beam of light to seal the leaking blood vessels in the eye.

End-stage renal disease is kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant to survive.

Impaired fasting glucose is defined as glucose levels of 6.1 to 6.9 mmol per L in fasting patients.

Impaired glucose tolerance is a condition in which a person's blood glucose level is above normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. It is defined as two hour glucose levels of 7.8 to 11.0 on the 75-g oral glucose tolerance test.

Insulin is a hormone responsible for regulating the uptake and storing of glucose in the body. When we eat, insulin signals liver and muscle cells to take in excess glucose and store it in the form of glycogen.  It also signals the fat cells to take in glucose and store it in the form of blood lipids to be turned into triglycerides.

Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CDSS) (formerly NDSS) is a network of provincial and territorial diabetes surveillance systems. It was created to improve the breadth of information about the burden of diabetes in Canada so that policymakers, researchers, health practitioners, and the general public could make better public and personal health decisions. The CDSS has a broad stakeholder base including the federal and all provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations, national Aboriginal groups, and researchers. In each province and territory the health insurance registry database is linked to the physician billing and hospitalization databases to provide a rich data source on diabetes in Canada.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, sometimes called Polycystic Ovarian Disease, is a hormonal disorder that affects between 6 and 10 percent of women. It causes the ovaries to produce higher than normal amounts of androgens (male hormones) which interferes with egg production. As a result, the ovary produces a cyst instead of an egg. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome tend to be insulin resistant.

Vascular Disease is mainly caused by atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. The arteries are blood vessels that supply the oxygen and nutrients, contained in the blood, to the body from the heart.

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