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March 27, 2007 > A Diabetes Alert for Everyone

A Diabetes Alert for Everyone

When the subject of diabetes comes up, everyone should pay attention. If you are one of 20 million Americans who have the disease, or one of the 40 million about to get it, you need to know this: Learning how to manage your diabetes and motivating yourself everyday could save your life. If you don't have diabetes, you should find out if you're at risk, so you can take action to help prevent it.
"Diabetes is an everyday disease," says Prasad V. Katta, M.D., an endocrinologist on the medical staff of Washington Hospital. "That means, if you have it, you have to think about it and take steps to manage it everyday."
Dr. Katta is a featured speaker at the hospital's semi-annual seminar on Diabetes 1 & 2 scheduled for next Tuesday, April 3 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Washington Hospital's Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. For registration information, call (800) 963-7070 or visit www.whhs.com.
Other experts featured at the seminar are certified diabetes educators Theresa Garnero, R.N., M.S.N., director of Washington Hospital's Diabetes Education Program, and Lori Roffelsen, registered clinical dietitian with Washington Hospital's Food & Nutritional Services. The program will include a general overview of diabetes and information on statistical trends and new medications, the keys to diabetes management, healthy eating and the importance of controlling carbohydrates.
"The world of diabetes information is ever changing, especially when it comes to research and treatment," comments Garnero. "For people who don't know much about diabetes, the seminar is a great introduction. For those who have had the disease for awhile, this is a good way to get re-energized about the critical importance of managing it."
Epidemic proportions
Many experts say diabetes has become an epidemic in the United States. More people are getting the disease and, of those who have it, more are experiencing complications, such as kidney, eye and neurological problems, strokes and heart disease. Diabetes is also affecting people at a younger and younger age.
"More than 20 percent of American children are overweight," reports Garnero. "As a result, we are seeing kids as young as six or seven-years old who have the disease and need to be treated. People haven't really grasped the impact that obesity will have on our next generation."
Currently, about eight percent of the American population has diabetes, but this figure is on the rise.
"Every third baby born in the U.S. after the year 2000 will become diabetic sometime during their lifetime," Dr. Katta states. "This is an alarming increase over current levels."
Everyday management
In the last decade, many new treatments and medications for diabetes have been developed, yet the number of people who have been able to successfully manage their diabetes by keeping their blood sugar under control has not improved. This is because managing diabetes is not easy. It requires people to be motivated, think about their disease and take action everyday - even several times a day.
"It is very different from a condition for which people can undergo surgery to improve or correct the condition," explains Dr. Katta. "I see a lack of action among many diabetic patients and also among some health care providers, who must spend a lot of time and attention helping patients manage the disease."
According to Dr. Katta, diabetes management starts with "The ABCs of diabetes":
* Control your Average blood sugar.
* Keep your Blood pressure at a healthy level.
* Watch your Cholesterol.
Are you at risk?
Even if you think you don't have diabetes, it's important that you find out if you are at risk. The American Diabetes Association has declared Tuesday, March 27 as American Diabetes Alert Day to raise public awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and the fact that someone could have the disease and not even know it. The association's Risk Test is an easy way to find out your risk for diabetes. You can take the test online at www.diabetes.org.
"The risk test is a good place to start," says Garnero. "But people often don't have symptoms, and screening for diabetes needs to be part of every person's regular health check-up. On average, people don't find out they have the diabetes until six or seven years after they get it. By then, up to half of the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin are already dead."
A simple test to measure blood glucose (or sugar) can be ordered by your physician. If you are in one of the high risk groups, you should have the test every year. For those not at risk, every two to three years is adequate.
To learn more about high risk groups and symptoms of diabetes, come to Washington Hospital's Diabetes 1 & 2 seminar. To learn more about Washington Hospital's Diabetes Education program, visit www.whhs.com, click on "Services & Programs" and select "Diabetes Services" from the drop-down menu. For more information, call (510) 608-1327.





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