Lifestyle changes can benefit health of those with diabetes, experts say |

Lifestyle changes can benefit health of those with diabetes, experts say

Mary Pickels
Tribune-Review File
The American Diabetes Association recommends regular exercise, along with healthy eating, to help manage diabetes.

Diabetes affects about 30 million people in the U.S., making it a diagnosis about 9 percent of the country’s population will receive in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

March 26 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day.

Planned as a one-day “wake-up call” focusing on the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding one’s risk, it encourages people to find out if they, or someone they love, may be at risk for type 2 diabetes by taking the Diabetes Risk Test.

Another 84 million Americans are prediabetic, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes; nine out of 10 adults with prediabetes don’t know they have it, the CDC adds.

Raising awareness

In an effort to help lower risk factors and assist those with a diabetes diagnosis learn healthy best practices, Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network’s Everyone with Diabetes Counts program is working with patients, health care providers and community organizations.

According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 27 percent of Pennsylvanians ages 65-74 have a diabetes prevalence; that figure is 21 percent for those age 75 and up.

Diabetes is known as the most common cause of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations in adults and a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

“ADA Alert Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the impact that diabetes has on the community and discuss how people can take action to make a real difference. The key message is that people can control their diabetes through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and by following a care plan in consultation with their doctor,” says Natalie Tappe, Quality Insight’s Everyone with Diabetes Counts’ network task lead.

Quality Insights offers free diabetes self-management education classes through the EDC program to Pennsylvania Medicare recipients.

Following pilot programs in six states, EDC is now a national Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiative.

The community-based approach encourages participation and provides a structure to support people with Medicare manage their diabetes. Through six-week class sessions, participants learn about diabetes risks, nutrition, weight management, how to properly manage medications and more.

Earlier participants have reported weight loss, lab result improvements and medication decreases, according to Quality Insights. In Pennsylvania, EDC classes are typically held in places like senior centers, senior residences, community centers and churches.

The program also works with health care providers and community volunteers, training them to be class instructors.

“Through the EDC program, we bring communities together to learn about, prevent and control diabetes,” Tappe says.

To date, 1,554 people with Medicare and 471 others have graduated from EDC classes in Pennsylvania, creating a total of 2,025 graduates.

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Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | Health Now
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