Diabetes in the News
If the newspaper knows more than your doctor, consider a switch.
By Walt Raleigh
As I write this column, the most popular article on the New York Times web site (as measured by the number of times it's been e-mailed by Times readers to their friends) is Gina Kolata's "Looking Past Blood Sugar to Survive With Diabetes," part of her fetchingly named "Six Killers" series (the others are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Alzheimer's.) It was published on Monday, August 20, and it seems to have struck a nerve or two.
If you've been *only* focusing on controlling your blood sugar (and measuring it with blood glucose and hemoglobin a1c tests), then you (and your doctor) really need to read this article.
You're absolutely doing the right thing by watching your blood sugar, but you aren't doing nearly enough:
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.
And the article goes on to document that most diabetics (the *vast* majority, in fact) are unaware that heart disease is a primary risk factor for them as a result of their diabetes.
Sorry if this is a downer, y'all... when I read this yesterday, I have to say that it spoiled the taste of the carefully carb-counted breakfast bagel in my mouth.
But I also said a silent prayer of thanks that my GP and endocrinologist are running my cholesterol numbers frequently (almost every time I go in for bloodwork) and staying on top of my blood pressure readings... and I have a little more sophisticated understanding about why my *very* mild hypertension (according to most sources I consulted, something that wouldn't be treated in a "normal" person) is being treated so aggressively.
Having a chronic illness means that you have to act aggressively to educate and advocate for yourself, or for a loved one who can't do it on their own.
If you're living with diabetes... do you know your HDL and LDL cholesterol numbers? What about your blood pressure?
Blood sugar is very far from the whole story.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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