Updated: August 26, 2011

You may write off diabetes as a disease that strikes only older people. But the reality is nearly 2 million women under the age of 45 suffer from the condition, which sets the stage for heart disease and stroke. New research in Diabetes Care shows that catching-and treating-it early slashes your risk for those complications: Diabetes patients who lost weight in the first 18 months after a diagnosis were twice as likely to achieve and maintain their blood sugar and blood pressure goals than those who didn't.

Do your health a favor by taking the American Diabetes Association's free screen (diabetes.org). You may also want to ask your doc about a fasting blood glucose test. If your levels are elevated (100 mg/dL or higher), lifestyle changes-such as eating more produce and exercising-can help bring them down.

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