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Diabetes education important to prevention

December 19, 2011

Q How does being African American affect having diabetes? — R.T., Seneca

A We know that African-American adults are more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes. At issue is the fact that African Americans appear to develop more serious complications of diabetes at an earlier age, are more likely to be hospitalized and are more likely to die from complications of their diabetes. These indicate a strong need for doctors and nurses to focus on diabetes education and help people manage their diabetes to prevent the complications. The complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage.

The National Institutes of Health, in recent years, have funded research into diabetes prevention. Type 2-diabetes is associated with an increase in obesity and a drop in physical activity. The research has demonstrated that a shift in weight by 5 percent to 7 percent makes a difference. If you weigh 200 pounds and you lose 10 to 14 pounds, it does help. In addition, 30 minutes of exercise five days of week can help. These two changes were found to reduce Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in adults with a high risk of developing diabetes.

It is not easy to make lifestyle changes. Your family and friends need to be supportive and help you make the changes in what you eat, how you prepare your food and how much you consume. Exercise is even harder to add into a routine for many people. It’s finding a good time in your daily schedule of events, sticking with the activity (and enjoying it) and finding a buddy to joins you. We often talk about diet and exercise during discussions about heart disease and stroke. It should be noted that research has shown that reducing blood pressure and reducing lipid (cholesterol) levels also reduce complications of diabetes.

Blood glucose monitoring has changed over the years as well. People may monitor their blood glucose throughout the day and adjust their medications to keep the levels from going up too high or down too low. The careful monitoring and managing of blood glucose levels is a key to preventing complications. In addition, a blood level marker (hemoglobin A1C) is used to review how well your blood sugar level is being managed, and lower levels of A1C are associated with reduced complications.

However, an example of how genetics play a role in health issues is seen in monitoring diabetes using A1C. Persons who are African American, as well as those with a Mediterranean or Southeast Asia heritage, may have a variant form of hemoglobin. Examples of variants are hemoglobin S, C or E. Hemoglobin S is related to sickle cell. A person with a variant hemoglobin trait does not necessary have symptoms.

Hemoglobin is the portion of the blood that provides the red color and carries oxygen throughout the body. A form of hemoglobin, A1C (glycohemoglobin) is a blood test that is done twice a year when a person has diabetes. The results of the A1C provide an average blood glucose level for a two- to three-month period. The doctor uses the results to plan adjustments to your medications. A person who has a variant hemoglobin may have false readings for A1C. If your A1C results doesn’t match your blood glucose monitoring you do daily — for example, if the A1C is high or if you’re A1C results differ significantly from previous results — then you might want to discuss with your doctor whether or not you might have a variant hemoglobin present and whether A1C is an appropriate monitoring test for you.

Article source: http://www.independentmail.com/news/2011/dec/18/diabetes-education-important-prevention/?partner=yahoo_feeds


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