Health Topic of the Month November 2016

This Is What Happens When You Develop Diabetes

how to prevent diabetesIf you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or even prediabetes, you know that lifestyle changes are a big part of managing and/or preventing this life-threatening disease. In this article, we want to discuss the challenges those with diabetes face, as well as prevention tools for those who are prediabetic. If you don’t know if you have pre-diabetes, you’ll want to get screened. See, the misconception is that only those who are overweight are at risk for diabetes. While it is true, that your weight plays a role in whether you’ll develop this highly preventable life-threatening disease, the biggest risk factor is AGE.

If undiagnosed, what kind of problems will a person with diabetes have?

“The major acute complication of undiagnosed diabetes is the development of severe hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels), that can cause symptoms such as blurred vision, weakness, fatigue, excess thirst and excessive urination; this can be severe enough to require hospitalization and can sometimes result in coma or death,” explains Dr. Michael McDermott, Medical Advisory Committee member for 9Health Fair. “Undiagnosed diabetes also promotes the development of atherosclerotic vascular disease (hardening of the arteries) and is actually the most significant overall risk factor for the development of heart attacks.”

On top of all that, it can cause poor blood flow… which can then lead to blindness, kidney damage, and even amputation of your hands and/or feet.

So, how do you know if you’re at risk?

  • Overweight
  • 45 years of age and older
  • Physically active less than 3 times per week
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • History of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)

If you have any of the risk factors above, ask your doctor or come to a 9Health Fair to get your Hemoglobin A1c, blood glucose, or BMI checked.

The Daily Struggles People with Diabetes Face

“Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes, the main challenge is to control their blood glucose levels in or near the normal range,” says Dr. McDermott.

If it’s managed, the problems detailed above are far less likely to develop.  Managing it not only involves daily medications, but also modifying your lifestyle – such as a what you eat and the amount of exercise you get.

According to a Harvard Study published last year, diabetes among men has more than doubled since 1980 and has increased for women as well, though not as much as for men.

Managing Diabetes Alone vs. Support Group

“The success rate for managing glucose without help from a health care provider is very low,” says Dr. McDermott. “Managing diabetes requires a significant amount of education and experience in regard to knowing when medications are needed and which medications will be most effective for each individual person.”

So, if you were to take a Hemoglobin A1c Diabetes Screening or a Blood Chemistry Screening (either can identify whether or not you have diabetes or are considered pre-diabetic) and found out that your levels are too high, you might want to consider a support program to help you. This is especially true if you are pre-diabetic because you can reverse the path you’re on and keep yourself from developing diabetes.

“The success rate for people who were diagnosed with prediabetes and engage in a lifestyle modification program such as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), administered in multiple locations such as the YMCA, is very good. These programs have been shown to have a 60% success rate in preventing the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.” Dr. McDermott says.

New 9Health Program Aimed to prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Because we know support groups are key to combating diabetes, 9Health is now expanding beyond just the health fair arena. Whether you attend a 9Health Fair or not, if you have pre-diabetes, we want to provide you the support you need to reverse course before you develop this life-threatening disease.

That’s why we have developed our first ever app. The 9Health ePrevent Diabetes Program puts the power of an evidenced-based lifestyle program and the support of a lifestyle coach in the palm of your hand. This program is designed to help you make small incidental changes in your life to reduce the risks, or reverse, pre-diabetes. The smartphone app makes capturing your meals, mood, sleep, and activity easy and fun, it even integrates with Garmin and Fitbit fitness trackers.

The app also pairs you with a trained lifestyle coach as your guide throughout the year-long program. Together you’ll leverage your strengths and navigate your challenges. Their support and guidance is always just a chat message away, meaning you can reach out for support when you need it. ePrevent Diabetes walks you through 26 weeks of structured learning, as well as providing daily motivational messages to keep you inspired.

Making sustainable lifestyle changes is a challenge, the 9Health ePrevent Diabetes Program puts the tools to help make those changes in the palm of your hand. With the smartphone app you can engage in the program no matter where you are and when it is convenient for your schedule.

Dr. McDermott wants you to know there’s no stigma with having diabetes. While age is a huge risk factor for developing the disease, he also notes that so is inheritance. “It is clear that our genetic makeup lays the foundation for whether or not we will be predisposed to developing diabetes. Since we cannot do anything to change the genes we have inherited, we emphasize lifestyle measures but this does not mean that a person caused themselves to have diabetes.”

Healthy lifestyle choices such as being more physically active, losing excess weight, eating healthier foods, staying hydrated, and stopping smoking can bring blood sugar levels back to normal. Pre-diabetes is reversible! Small changes make a big difference over time!