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October 24, 2007 > Are You Controlling Your Diabetes?

Are You Controlling Your Diabetes?

Are you in control of your diabetes, or is it controlling you? Recent advances in diabetes management are making it more possible to stay on top of the chronic disease and prevent some of the serious risks, like heart attack or kidney failure.
"A lot has changed in terms of diabetes management. The field has really exploded," said Dr. Aruna Chakravorty, a Washington Hospital endocrinologist who will be presenting an upcoming seminar on "New Advances in Diabetes Management."
Part of Washington Hospital's free Diabetes Matters education series, the session will be held on Thursday, November 1, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register for the seminar, call (800) 963-7070.
"There are newer medications and new types of insulin," Chakravorty said. "I'm going to talk about what has changed in the last five to 10 years."
With diabetes, the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy for daily living. While the cause is still unknown, both genetics and environmental factors like obesity and lack of exercise appear to have roles.
More than 20 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Unfortunately, an estimated 6 million have not been diagnosed. That is a tragedy because uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on the body, significantly raising the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness.
The majority of people with diabetes have Type 2, which means the body isn't producing enough insulin or isn't using it properly. Type 1 diabetes results when the body doesn't produce any insulin and affects less than 10 percent of those with the disease.
Regularly checking the level of glucose in the blood is one of the best tools for keeping diabetes in control. When glucose levels, also called blood sugar levels, are too high, it causes serious damage to the body. There are now easier and less painful ways to test blood glucose levels. For example, newer meters test the blood and store the data so average blood sugar levels over time can be easily computed.

New Medications Target Disease
New medications have entered the market over the last 10 years that are making it easier to manage diabetes by keeping blood glucose levels under control. While those with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin, there are more options for people with Type 2 diabetes.
The first line of treatment for those with Type 2 diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels down through diet and exercise. However, if that is not effective, there a variety of medications designed to work in conjunction with proper meal planning and exercise.
For example, there are several types of pills available that when taken before meals help the pancreas release more insulin. Others help make muscle tissue more sensitive to insulin so glucose can be absorbed. One type blocks the breakdown of starches such as bread and potatoes in the intestine, slowing the rise in blood sugar levels after a meal.
For those with Type 1 diabetes, there are new and more effective types of insulin available today. These new formulations offer simpler regimens and better glucose control.
Researchers continue to work on new advances in the treatment of diabetes, including implantable insulin pumps that measure blood sugar levels and deliver the exact amount of insulin needed.
"We need to treat diabetes aggressively, and newer medications are helping us do that," Chakravorty said. "We know that elevated glucose levels cause much more damage to the body than was first thought. So these new advances in diabetes management are critical."
To learn more about managing your diabetes, register for the seminar at (800) 963-7070. For information about the session, call (510) 745-6556.
For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit www.whhs.com.

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