21-year-old Sylvisha Perry has type-2 diabetes and all the health problems that come with it. "This is considered a high blood pressure."
Doctors diagnosed her when she was 15 years old. "Chips, candy, cookies, that was me, so I probably egged it on to come and happen faster."
Perry is part of a disturbing trend according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
Between 1999 and 2008, the percentage of teenagers with pre-diabetes and diabetes jumped from 9% to 23%. "This leads possibly, if we don't intervene, to younger and younger people getting cardiovascular disease and it's a wake up call to work on aggressive treatment and prevention," says Dr. Robin Goland of Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center inside Columbia University Medical Center.
Teens at the greatest risk were overweight or obese and up to 61% of them had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. "These are things that only Grandma gets, and then they're taking 2,3,4 medications, it's expensive, they have side effects and then their friends aren't doing it. It's asking a lot and it's hard."
Perry has to check her blood sugar three times a day and give herself insulin shots but admits she wasn't always a willing participant. "I was in denial because at 15, I wasn't paying attention to it so I just ignored it."
And that could be the most dangerous risk factor of all.@
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the U.S.