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August 24, 2007 at 7:44 pm #138693JaxKeymaster
Looking Past Blood Sugar to Survive With Diabetes
By GINA KOLATA, The New York Times
Posted: 2007-08-20 17:57:32
“Whoa, look at the sugar in here,” his doctor told him. Mr. Smith’s blood sugar level was sky high and glucose was spilling into his urine.
That was about nine years ago, and from then on Mr. Smith, like so many with diabetes, became fixated on his blood sugar. His doctor warned him to control it or the consequences could be dire — he could end up blind or lose a leg. His kidneys could fail. Mr. Smith, a 43-year-old pastor in Fairmont, Minn., tried hard. When dieting did not work, he began counting carbohydrates, taking pills to lower his blood sugar and pricking his finger several times a day to measure his sugar levels. They remained high, so he agreed to add insulin to his already complicated regimen. Blood sugar was always on his mind.
But in focusing entirely on blood sugar, Mr. Smith ended up neglecting the most important treatment for saving lives — lowering the cholesterol level. That protects against heart disease, which eventually kills nearly everyone with diabetes.
He also was missing a second treatment that protects diabetes patients from heart attacks — controlling blood pressure. Mr. Smith assumed everything would be taken care of if he could just lower his blood sugar level.
Blood sugar control is important in diabetes, specialists say. It can help prevent dreaded complications like blindness, amputations and kidney failure. But controlling blood sugar is not enough.
Nearly 73,000 Americans die from diabetes annually, more than from any disease except heart disease, cancer, stroke and pulmonary disease.
Yet, largely because of a misunderstanding of the proper treatment, most patients are not doing even close to what they should to protect themselves. In fact, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 7 percent are getting all the treatments they need.
“That, to me, is mind-boggling,” said Dr. Michael Brownlee, director of the JDRF International Center for Diabetic Complications Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “It makes me ask, What is going on? I can only conclude that people are not aware of their risks and what could be done about them.”
In part, the fault for the missed opportunities to prevent complications and deaths lies with the medical system. Most people who have diabetes are treated by primary care doctors who had just a few hours of instruction on diabetes, while they were in medical school. Then the doctors typically spend just 10 minutes with diabetes patients, far too little for such a complex disease, specialists say.
In part it is the fault of proliferating advertisements for diabetes drugs that emphasize blood sugar control, which is difficult and expensive and has not been proven to save lives.
And in part it is the fault of public health campaigns that give the impression that diabetes is a matter of an out-of-control diet and sedentary lifestyle and the most important way to deal with it is to lose weight.
Most diabetes patients try hard but are unable to control their disease in this way, and most of the time it progresses as years go by, no matter what patients do.
Mr. Smith, like 90 percent of diabetes patients, has Type 2 diabetes, the form that usually arises in adulthood when the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas cannot keep up with the body’s demand for the hormone. The other form of diabetes, Type 1, is far less common and usually arises in childhood or adolescence when insulin-secreting pancreas cells die.
And, like many diabetes patients, Mr. Smith ended up paying the price for his misconceptions about diabetes. Last year, he had a life-threatening heart attack.August 26, 2007 at 4:08 am #145801Kol DrakeModerator
My dad is a type 2 diabetic. Always good to see what the medical community is commenting on — and warning ‘for’ or ‘against’.
To quote old G.I. Joe cartoon
“…. and now I know! And knowing is half the battle!” Go Joe!!!August 26, 2007 at 4:17 am #145802JaxKeymaster
hahaha, I say that all the time! Usually in my head, but seriously, I probably say it once a week at least!August 26, 2007 at 3:20 pm #145807Anonymous
that article does make a point, but honestly medical students are taught a bit more about diabetes control than what the article hints at. All doctors know that Diabetes comes with a cluster of symptoms that include high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Also the articles downplays the impact of lifestyle on Type 2 diabetes, which I find distressing. Type 2 diabetes is totally preventable or reversible once it exists if a person is willing to change their lifelong habits to much healthier eating patterns and start exercising. The American diet is filled with processed sugars that overload the body’s ability to produce enough insulin to handle it. After a certain point the body even develops a resistance to the high levels of sugars called Insulin resistance factor. The whole problem with type 2 diabetes is that if you keep pumping high amounts of sugars and calories into a body while not putting those calories to proper use with exercise or activity, it just gets stored up in fat cells. When the fat cells get full, they start producing an insulin resistance factor and then the body has not where to put the sugar. thats when everything gets out of whack.
Unfortunately most Americans think that if their doctors give them little pills thats all they need to get better. They don’t want the inconvenience of actually having to stop eating their favorite tasty treats, or lounging infront of the TV or computer for hours at a time. My brother’s in-laws have that problem. Their doctors have warned them multiple times and told them what lifestyle habits they need to change, but they continue to eat really rich heavy high calorie foods, they don’t go even walk, and exercise? They have gym access as part of their home owners assoc benefits, but as of yet they haven’t gone. Every time I’ve gone to visit they’re fatter and more miserable and less physically capable, and yet they don’t change.
Type 2 Diabetes is entirely lifestyle caused. It is not a virus or the flu nor is it cancer. It’s caused by commercials with subliminals tempting people to eat more and do less, and enjoy the good life. :maraAugust 26, 2007 at 4:41 pm #145810Anonymous
found an interesting article about diabetes while I was playing around with medical journalsAugust 26, 2007 at 8:33 pm #145816Kol DrakeModeratorQuote:Unfortunately most Americans think that if their doctors give them little pills thats all they need to get better. They don’t want the inconvenience of actually having to stop eating their favorite tasty treats, or lounging infront of the TV or computer for hours at a time. My brother’s in-laws have that problem. Their doctors have warned them multiple times and told them what lifestyle habits they need to change, but they continue to eat really rich heavy high calorie foods, they don’t go even walk, and exercise? They have gym access as part of their home owners assoc benefits, but as of yet they haven’t gone. Every time I’ve gone to visit they’re fatter and more miserable and less physically capable, and yet they don’t change.
Type 2 Diabetes is entirely lifestyle caused. It is not a virus or the flu nor is it cancer. It’s caused by commercials with subliminals tempting people to eat more and do less, and enjoy the good life. :mara
My dad had a doctor who kept telling him to ‘lose weight’…. so, dad went out and changed doctors to one who doesn’t nag him about that!
At 77, taking a dozen pills a day is still ‘a better alternative’ than exercising and eating right, at least in his mind. He bitches about the pills…. but is unwilling to make those fundamental changes which would REALLY lead to a healtheir extended life style.
And, up to the last year or so… he’s been in fair to decent health so — he never had to even think about ‘…consequencies… and short term / long term damage….’. And, his mind would rather ignore than admit it’s an issue…… even when his golfing buddy stops playing — having a leg removed due to diabetic related blood infections, etc.
Oddly enough, I think it is a ‘generational’ mind set — similar to their hoarding impluses…. related to their youth time during the depression & WWII. It shaped that whole generation…….August 26, 2007 at 11:04 pm #145823Bright FalconParticipant
If it’s a generational mindset, it’s being passed down. I’m seeing it in my parents, who are baby-boomers. And then number of my age-mates who take cold medication at the first sniffle, advil at the slightest pain . . . It is, as someone has said previously, a cultural thing, though I think we are starting to see some changes.August 30, 2007 at 3:28 am #145879Anonymous
it’s a learned pattern behaviour that is perpetuated by every tv commercial that says take a pill and everything will be better, because we live in the modern age of miracles. right? :mara
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