In recognition of National Diabetes Awareness Month, throughout the month of November, Louisiana Healthcare Connections is promoting awareness of, and education about, diabetes in Louisiana.
According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 14 percent of the adult population in Louisiana have diabetes, and an additional 37.5 percent have prediabetes. Direct medical expenses and lost productivity due to diabetes and prediabetes cost an estimated $5.4 billion in Louisiana each year, the Association reports.
“Diabetes is an epidemic in our state, but it is one that can be minimized through medication, fitness, nutrition and education,” says Stewart Gordon, MD, Louisiana Healthcare Connections Chief Medical Officer. “National Diabetes Awareness Month represents an opportunity to promote diabetes awareness and education to empower Louisiana residents with the tools and information they need to make healthy decisions that reduce their risks for developing this condition.”
There are two types of diabetes, Gordon noted: Type 1 and Type 2.
“Type 1 occurs when the body does not produce insulin. The cause of Type 1 is not yet known, but genetics and certain environmental factors may play a role,” he explained. “Type 2 is more common, and occurs when the body does not use insulin appropriately. There are several causes of Type 2, but genetics and lifestyle are the biggest. Both types may be managed with the appropriate medications, nutrition, exercise and medical care.”
Type 2 is the most prevalent type in Louisiana, reports the American Diabetes Association. Approximately 32,000 are diagnosed each year, and an estimated 124,000 have the condition but do not know it, according to the Association’s statistics.
“With early detection and awareness, you can help to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes,” Gordon noted. “Risk factors include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, having high blood pressure or cholesterol and being over the age of 45. But there are steps you can take to reduce some of these risks.”
He recommends the following to reduce the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes:
- Exercise regularly. Even moderate physical activity can help to reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes as well as help to improve other serious health conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
- Adopt a healthy, balanced diet. Choose foods that are low in sodium and solid fats, and include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins in a daily diet.
- Quit smoking. Studies have shown that smokers are as much as 40 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, and have greater difficulty in controlling their condition.
- Get regular health check-ups. Regular wellness visits include many important health screenings, including diabetes screenings.