I’ve just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I’m trying not to freak out, but it looks like this is going to be a LOT of work to manage, as if I’m not already busy enough. What can you offer for people like me to help manage this disease?
Solution: Being diagnosed with any disease that can’t be quickly and easily cured can be scary. Fortunately you’re not in this alone. There is an army of medical experts who are fighting for you every day. Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern with more and more Americans diagnosed every day.
Here’s the great news: you have the power to control the disease with some lifestyle adjustments. While that can seem overwhelming at first, with the right knowledge, support and care team, you can seamlessly integrate the right changes into your life, allowing you to take full control and live a long, healthy, happy life.
Here are the basics anyone with Type 2 diabetes needs to know: if you have Type 2 diabetes, your body does not use a natural chemical, called insulin, properly. At first, your pancreas will make extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time your pancreas won’t be able to make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar (medically known as glucose) at normal levels.
In the short term, uncontrolled diabetes can cause:
- Hyperglycemia: high blood sugar, which is a long-term danger to your blood vessels, eyes and organs.
- Hypoglycemia: low blood sugar, which leads to sudden, dangerously low levels of energy. The results can be as minor as causing you to feel shaky or as dangerous as causing mental confusion, hostile behavior, unconsciousness or even seizures.
- Diabetic ketoacidosis: ketones are a blood acid created when your body doesn’t have enough insulin to convert glucose in your blood into energy, so it starts using fat for energy. The buildup of this dangerous blood acid can lead to a diabetic coma or even be fatal.
While glucose levels can be managed with a careful mix of diet, exercise and medications, living a long, healthy life doesn’t stop with normalizing your glucose levels.
Dr. Steven Marso, Medical Director of Cardiovascular Services at HCA Midwest Health, a leading expert in the connections between diabetes and cardiovascular health, has engaged in years of research indicating there’s more to maintaining diabetic health than maintaining healthy glucose levels. “Diabetes doesn’t travel alone. There are four things we need to manage: glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. Across the United States, only one in 300 people with diabetes is at goal for all four of these issues. And maintaining health requires taking control of all four.”
Dr. Marso explains that diabetes can lead to heart disease. The damage done to blood vessels can weaken the heart, and with added cholesterol, blood pressure and weight issues, the damage can lead to coronary artery disease, and without treatment, a heart attack.
At HCA Midwest Health we offer two comprehensive diabetes care and education programs which are recognized by the American Diabetes Association – one at Overland Park Regional Medical Center and the other at Menorah Medical Center.
The diabetes centers help patients with diabetes and their families to learn about diabetes treatment, meal planning, physical activity, blood sugar monitoring, medicine options, how to reduce risks and learn lifetime self-management skills.
The American Diabetes Association labels diabetes self-management education (DSME) as a critical element of care for all people with diabetes and those at risk for developing the disease. It is important in preventing or delaying the complications of diabetes. The objectives are to improve the long-term quality of life through more-informed decision-making and full collaboration between the patient and the healthcare team.
Getting to your goal numbers is vital, and you can do that by working closely with your care team. And if you’ve been living with diabetes for 10 years or more, you may consider visiting with a cardiologist to treat any possible threats to your heart’s health early. After all, the best heart problems are the ones you avoid.
The hospitals of HCA Midwest Health can offer you the spectrum of experts anyone trying to manage diabetes will need. From primary care physicians to diabetes educators to endocrinologists to cardiologists, all leaders in their fields of study. So while a diabetes diagnosis is reason for concern, with the right team, you can be confident in controlling the disease and having a long, healthy, happy life.