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Diabetes is Slowing, But Awareness is Key

By Janet Maurice on 11/7/2014
New statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have put a cautiously optimistic tone on National Diabetes Awareness Month. 

Published in the Journal of The American Medical Association, the data suggests that the increase in diagnosed cases of diabetes in the United States is slowing from year to year for the first time since the CDC started tracking the epidemic. According to the CDC, about 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed in adults aged 20-79 each year.

Diabetes basics – are you at risk? 

The CDC study brings hope, but it doesn’t mean we can take it easy – if anything, now is the time for more awareness and action.  In recognition of National Diabetes Month, the National Diabetes Education Program is bringing it back to the basics and encouraging everyone to understand diabetes and be aware of its symptoms and dangers.Diabetes is a condition where there’s too much sugar (or glucose) in the blood. This happens because the body is not converting sugar and carbohydrates into energy for the cells. Usually, the body secretes a hormone called insulin from the pancreas to convert sugars into energy, but this secretion does not occur properly in diabetics.

Risk Factors & Symptoms 

While some individuals are diagnosed with diabetes because their body does not produce insulin (Type 1 diabetes), the majority of diabetics develop the disease (Type 2 diabetes) likely due to these risk factors:
• High blood pressure
• High blood cholesterol
• Obesity (BMI> 30)

Individuals are also at an increased risk for developing diabetes if they have two of the following risks:
• Overweight (BMI > 25 but less than 30)
• Family history of diabetes (mother, father, sister or brother)
• Age over 65
• History of diabetes during pregnancy or the delivery of a baby weighing > 9 pounds

The symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue or irritability, frequent infections, blurred vision and sores that are slow to heal. If you have any of these symptoms, please see your doctor right away to check for diabetes. If you don’t have a primary physician, Griffin Faculty Physicians have offices throughout the area.

Change is as easy as ABC

According to the NDEP, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and it is estimated that one in every four people with diabetes does not even know they have it. Not knowing you have diabetes can be extremely harmful as diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

Fortunately, people with diabetes can lower their chances of diabetes-related heart issues by just remembering the ABCs:
• A is for the A1C test (A-one-C).  This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar (glucose) level over the past three months and is an indicator for diabetes.
• B is for Blood pressure. Keep track of your blood pressure because high blood pressure is associated with heart problems.
• C is for Cholesterol. Know your cholesterol numbers as high cholesterol can also lead to heart disease.
• S is for stopping smoking. Smoking is a preventable risk factor for heart disease and other health issues

Support available

Griffin Hospital offers free support to individuals diagnosed with diabetes.
The Live Well Chronic Disease Self-Management and Diabetes Self-Management programs offers diabetics and their caregivers vital information and resources to help them better understand the disease, how to control its effects, and get more enjoyment out of life.

The Griffin Hospital Diabetes Education & Support Group

Griffin Hospital's Diabetes Education & Support Group meets September - June on the second Tuesday of each month to discuss the management of diabetes, its challenges and day-to-day dietary concerns. All diabetics and their families are welcome to attend for free.

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