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February 27, 2008 > Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Diabetes and Surgery

Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Diabetes and Surgery

People with Diabetes at High Risk for Amputation and Renal Failure

If you have diabetes, you have to keep it under control. Diabetes is a dangerous disease that wreaks havoc on the body and can cause a number of other serious health problems.
Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association. In the last 20 years, the death rate from diabetes has increased 45 percent, while the death rates for heart disease, stroke, and cancer have declined.
"Diabetes affects blood vessels, nerves and other tissues," said Dr. Rakesh Safaya, a vascular surgeon who will present an upcoming Washington Hospital seminar on diabetes. "People with diabetes are at high risk for blockages in their arteries, renal failure, and other problems that may eventually require surgery."
Part of Washington Hospital's free Diabetes Matters education series, "Diabetes and Surgery" will be held on Thursday, March 6, 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.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that has no cure. With diabetes, the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar, starches and other foods into the energy our body needs for daily living.
Type 1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin and accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of the disease. People with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin into their bodies to survive.
The more common form is type 2 diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases. It usually begins as insulin resistance, which occurs when the cells do not use insulin properly. As the need for insulin rises, the body often loses its ability to produce it.
"About 100,000 people in Alameda County have diabetes," Safaya said. "Most troubling is a third of those people haven't been diagnosed, so they don't know they have it."
Safaya will discuss some of the severe complications associated with diabetes, including kidney disease, blocked arteries, nerve damage, and feet sores. These problems can lead to surgeries to unblock the arteries and possibly even amputate the leg or foot. More than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.

Reduce Your Risk
While there are serious complications associated with diabetes, there are also steps you can take to reduce your risk.
"Prevention is the best measure," Safaya said. "First you have to know if you are at risk. Then you have to make the right changes and keep your diabetes under control."
He will talk about ways to reduce your risk, including medications that can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as lifestyle changes that can improve your health.
Eating well-balanced meals in the correct amounts can help keep blood sugar levels under control. It is important to eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods and limit saturated fats.
Regular physical activity can help lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke, relieves stress, improves blood circulation and helps keep weight under control.
If you are overweight, it's important to get those pounds off. At least one out of every five overweight people has metabolic problems, which can lead to severe complications like heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
"Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, you have to accept that it's the hand you have been dealt and take action," Safaya said. "You are putting your health at serious risk if you don't."
To learn more about diabetes prevention and treatment, register for the seminar at (800) 963-7070. To find out about other diabetes education classes, call (510) 745-6556.
For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit

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