Mary Jo has diabetes type 2. Every morning she gets up and pricks her finger to check her blood sugar. Then she takes her medicine which consists of some pills and a new medication that she injects. Breakfast consists of a limited amount of carbohydrate, as does lunch and dinner. She is encouraged by her doctor to get daily exercise and she realizes that her days of eating whatever she wants whenever she wants are over.
Diabetes is a big pain in the neck. But Mary Jo knows that if she doesn’t follow her daily routine, she is putting herself at risk for early heart disease, or blindness, or amputations. Her fear of the complications of diabetes fuels her motivation to care for herself.
What if Mary Jo could turn back the clock and prevent this disease before it started? Is it possible? The answer is yes in many cases. The key is to find out before it becomes full-blown diabetes.
There are some characteristics that predict diabetes type 2 before it happens. They call this stage prediabetes. The scary statistic is that 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes yet only 10 percent know it. That means in Lincoln County if 3,000 people have prediabetes, only 300 are aware of it.
Prediabetes is characterized by a blood sugar reading that is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. People at this stage are on their way to develop diabetes type 2 within five years, and are at a higher risk for stroke and heart disease than the general population.
The good news is that people with prediabetes can avoid or delay developing diabetes type 2. The sooner prediabetes is identified and changes are made, the better chance to prevent diabetes. These changes mean losing 5 percent to 7 perecent of body weight and getting regular physical activity.
The Centers for Disease Control developed guidelines for a national program to prevent diabetes type 2. That program is called PREVENT. The nationwide Diabetes Prevention Program is here at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center in Libby. For seven years, our team of diabetes educators and dietitians has been helping people lose weight and reduce their risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The 2017 fall program will start on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. The class meets for 26 sessions over 12 months. The cost is $100 for the year, and scholarships are available.
There are no symptoms for prediabetes, so how do you know if you are at risk? Take this quick test and add up the points:
1. Gender: Men 1 point, Women 0 points
2. Age: over 60 3 points, over 50 2 points, over 40 1 point
3. Activity: active 0 points, not very active 1 point
4. Family history: diabetes in family 1 point, no diabetes 0 points
5. High Blood Pressure: Yes 1 point, No 0 points
6. Weight: Normal weight 0 points, slightly overweight 1 point, somewhat overweight 2 points, very overweight 3 points
If you scored 5 or more, you may have prediabetes; check in with your doctor for a simple blood test to make sure. Then ask your doctor to refer you to the Prevent Program.
For more information about the program call 406-283-7318.
Anne Alexander is one of the PREVENT leaders at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center.