The Canadian Diabetes Association has released new guidelines that will ensure more people are checked for the disease on a regular basis, which could be lifechanging for people in Nova Scotia.

On Monday, the Canadian Diabetes Association unveiled its 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines to prevent and manage diabetes. The new guidelines suggest people over 40 should be screened every three years. Those at high risk should be tested every year.

The association also wants to implement a blood test that does not require fasting. Current methods require patients to fast for 12 hours before the test. The association hopes eliminating that requirement will make screening and early diagnosis simpler.

"By identifying these people earlier and targeting therapies earlier in particular — helping them improve their lifestyle — we would be able to delay or avoid complications of diabetes," said Dr. Ali Imran, an endocrinologist who worked on the guidelines.

"We have to understand that the prevalence of diabetes in Canada has increased remarkably – almost double over the past decade."

He said Nova Scotia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador have the highest prevalence rates of diabetes.

Diabetes can bring complications including stroke, blindness and amputation.

"The screening is critical," said Imran. "We would encourage physicians to follow recommendations."

Imran believes the upfront costs of testing would be a worthwhile investment in the long run.

"We have to understand the cost of not testing," he said. "But clearly if you did the economic analysis, the cost of screening or screening individuals at risk, I think is beneficial in terms of cost."

Lifestyle change

Catherine Collins of Dartmouth supports the new guidelines. She had no idea she had Type 2 diabetes until she went to a drug store screening clinic.

"The problem with Type 2 diabetes is it doesn’t hurt you right away," she said.

Collins has been trying to reverse the effects of the disease by eating right and running. Her lifestyle changes have allowed her to reduce both her diabetes and high blood pressure medication.

The Canadian Diabetes Association by 2020, estimates one in three Canadians will have diabetes or prediabetes.