Diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, affects nearly 26 million people. Another 79 million have prediabetes and are at risk of developing diabetes, but only 11 percent are aware of it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, if current trends continue, as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050.

At least 68 percent of people over 65 years of age with diabetes die of some form of heart disease; 16 percent die of stroke. Heart disease death rates among adults with diabetes are two to four times higher than the rates for adults without heart disease.

Heart disease, stroke and diabetes share many common risks factors including hypertension, current smoking, high cholesterol and obesity. Studies have shown that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes by making some lifestyle changes to reduce these risks.

The American Heart Association is joining other national organizations on American Diabetes Association Alert Day to urge people to understand the risks of diabetes and take steps to living healthy.

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