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November 13, 2012 > Washington Hospital to Host 5th Annual Diabetes Health Fair

Washington Hospital to Host 5th Annual Diabetes Health Fair

Learn From the Experts on How to Manage the Disease

An estimated 100,000 individuals in Alameda County have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes but many more may be unaware they have the disease. Untreated, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, vision problems, heart and circulatory issues and a host of complications that exacerbate other health problems.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, Washington Hospital will host a free Diabetes Health Fair that will include a free breakfast and snack, diabetes screenings for blood glucose and cholesterol, and presentations by physicians specializing in diabetes and management of the disease. Additionally, cooking demonstrations will illustrate how to manage your diet with diabetes and still have delicious meals. Participants will have an opportunity to speak to diabetes specialists with individual questions.

The Health Fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D., Auditorium, located in the Washington West building, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Fremont. Participants are welcome to come for the entire morning's events or to drop in as time allows. The Health Fair is open to everyone who may have the disease as well as friends and family members - and to anyone in the community who may want to know more about diabetes and how to live a healthy life style.

Speakers include Dr. Sarbjit Hundal, ophthalmologist, and Dr. Prasad Kilaru, plastic surgeon and medical director at the Washington Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine. Heading up the cooking demonstration will be Anna Mazzei, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, and Alfredo Macias, Washington Hospital Healthcare System chef.

With diabetes, the body cannot properly convert sugar from food into energy, causing sugar levels in the blood and urine to rise. The complications of diabetes can be serious, and those complications can start very early. Most complications stem from changes in the blood vessels and nerves that affect various parts of the body, including the eyes, kidneys, heart and limbs.

Dr. Hundal and Dr. Kilaru emphasize that active management of the disease is essential to prevent dangerous complications common to the diabetes. Diet, exercise and managing blood sugar levels are essential - as are preventative measures relating to circulatory problems in the eyes and extremities.

Dr. Hundal will discuss how diabetes affects eyesight and how, unchecked, the disease can lead to blindness.

"Prevention is the number one key to maintaining good eyesight for diabetes patients. Seeing your physician regularly and having your eyes checked annually is essential," Dr. Hundal said.

"Diabetes is basically an illness of the small blood vessels," Dr. Hundal explained. "This is why it primarily affects a patient's kidneys, extremities and vision. Diabetes damages the inner lining of small blood vessels (capillaries) which then are unable to properly circulate blood to the eye. Eventually, this leads to the eyes drying out, the capillaries leaking and damaging the eyes."

The best way to control eye damage is to control the diabetes itself through diet, exercise and other strategies overseen by a physician.

"We can treat eyes that are damaged but we can't reverse the damage so controlling the diabetes is the very best action any person with diabetes can take," Dr. Hundal said.

Diabetics often have poor circulation in their feet, caused by the same damage to small blood vessels that impact the eyes and kidneys, according to Dr. Kilaru.

Dr. Kilaru urges diabetics to examine their feet daily for any breaks in the skin, no matter how small and to have regular checks by a physician or podiatrist. Keeping to a proscribed diet is essential, he added, noting that rising blood sugar often indicates an infection in the body. One in four diabetics run the risk of a foot ulcer which, if untreated, can lead to amputation.

"Prevention is essential," Dr. Kilaru said. "Monitor your circulation; if you have a wound, make sure you have it treated. Catch it in the early stages. Never give up. Treatment at any stage is important; it may save your life."

Get the Scoop on Diabetes

To learn more about diabetes management, plan to attend the Washington Hospital Diabetes Health Fair on Saturday, November 17 beginning at 8 a.m. The fair will take place in the Conrad E. Anderson M.D. Auditorium, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. Register online at www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070. Visit www.whhs.com/diabetes for more information.

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