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Diabetes Alert Day is designated to make the public aware of the risk factors of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Unfortunately, there are millions of American with this disease that are undiagnosed. Preventing the disease, or slowing the progression of the disease, is the key to leading a long, high-quality life. Please call Angie Mettille, Certified Diabetes Educator at Veterans Memorial Hospital Diabetes Education for more information at 563-568-3411.

Diabetes Alert Day

By Angie Mettille RN, BSN, Certified Diabetes Educator

The American Diabetes Association recognizes the 4th Tuesday in March as “Diabetes Alert Day”. The purpose of this designated day is to make the public aware of the risk factors of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Unfortunately, there are millions of Americans that are undiagnosed with this disease. When one has elevated blood sugars for a long duration of time, the likelihood of irreversible complications is increased.

A yearly health physical is important for everyone, but even more so when you are at risk for diabetes. Some risks for developing type 2 diabetes are: age, gender, ethnicity, family history, activity level and weight. By attending regular clinic appointments, your weight, blood pressure and labs will be evaluated. A fasting glucose level can determine if you have diabetes or prediabetes. A hemoglobin A1c level may also be checked and is a blood test that can determine what your average blood glucose has been running over the past 3 months. If either of these numbers are above normal values, you will be diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes. Taking action before these numbers are abnormal is essential to preventing the development of diabetes. You can do this by making healthy food choices, managing stress, and being physically active.

If someone is diagnosed with diabetes, they are usually referred to diabetes education. A diabetes educator is someone that can spend time with their patients explaining what diabetes is, how it was diagnosed, and ways to ensure that blood sugars are in good control to decrease risk of complications. These risks include heart attack, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, neuropathy, and retinopathy that can lead to blindness. Blood sugars can be controlled in many ways including lifestyle changes and a variety of medication options if needed.

After diagnosis of diabetes, most patients are encouraged to maintain a hemoglobin A1c lab test of less than 7% to decrease their risk of complications. This is equivalent to an average blood sugar of less than 154 mg/dl. Patients that were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2023 and participated in VMH Diabetes Education saw an average decrease in their A1c of 2.4% whereas patients that were referred to diabetes education and declined services only saw a decrease in their A1c of 0.4%. All these results were compared 3-6 months following their date of diagnosis.

Learning how to live a healthier life through lifestyle modifications is essential to controlling blood sugars. Preventing the disease, or slowing the progression of the disease, is the key to leading a long, high-quality life. Please call Veterans Memorial Hospital Diabetes Education for more information at 563-568-3411. You may also visit www.diabetes.org or www.cdc.gov for additional information about your risk of developing diabetes.