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Diabetes Mellitus

This is a disease without a cure at the present moment, but science is hard at work looking for the solution. In the not too distant future a cure may be found, but until that glorious day arrives, control is our only real weapon. And you must be in control. This risk factor rarely comes alone; it can be tied to obesity and high cholesterol. Type II, known as Adult Onset can be frequently traced to obesity. If that is your case, treat one risk factor and you may get the bonus of treating this risk factor at the same time.

Prevalence

  • Diabetes increases the risk of stroke, with the relative risk ranging from 1.8 to almost 6.0.
  • Diabetes is one of the most important risk factors for stroke in women.
  • The prevalence of diabetes increased by 8.2 percent from 2000 to 2001. Since 1990 the prevalence of those diagnosed with diabetes increased 61 percent. In 2001 Alabama had the highest rate of diagnosed diabetes (10.5 percent) and Minnesota had the lowest (5.0 percent).
  • During 1994-2002 the age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes increased 54.0 percent for U.S. adults, from 4.8 to 7.3 percent.
  • Compared with white women, black women have 138 percent higher rates of ambulatory medical care visits for diabetes.
  • The age-adjusted prevalence of major CVD for women with diabetes is twice that for women without diabetes.
  • An estimated 49-69 million adults in the United States may have insulin resistance. One in four of them will develop type 2 diabetes.
  • In 2000, among persons with diabetes age 35 and older, 37.2 percent reported being diagnosed with a CV condition.

Mortality

  • The 2001 overall death rate from diabetes was 25.3. Death rates were 26.2 for white males, 49.9 for black males, 20.5 for white females and 48.1 for black females.
  • From two-thirds to three-fourths of people with diabetes mellitus die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
  • Heart disease death rates among adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times higher than the rates for adults without diabetes.

What Can You Do?

  • Don’t be depressed or fearful, that only makes things worse.
  • Listen to your doctor, read, purchase the equipment you need to monitor yourself.
  • Take a class and learn to cook and eat to reduce the effects of your disease.
  • Be determined that your life will be a good one.
  • Purchase measuring cups and measuring spoons that will allow you to correctly do portion control.
  • Take all prescribed medications as instructed.
  • Find an exercise you enjoy and do it every day.
  • Talk to a friend who might also have the same problem.
  • Be patient, getting blood sugar under control doesn’t happen over night.
Success Stories - Diabetes Mellitus

Kathy, age 58
Who ever said getting older wasn’t for sissies sure had my life in mind. At age 50 right on the dot, my health began to fall apart. Now, I can blame all my problems on my ancestors since the genetic predisposition for all of my issues come from them. But, since they are all dead, they really don’t care to hear it.

It all began when I started to gain weight, not a little weight, but an entire other person attached themselves to my hips. It is amazing how fast 150 pounds can become 250 when you aren’t paying attention. My first bad news came with the information that my cholesterol and tryglycerides were way too high. “Stop eating fat and carbohydrates and take this pill.” so said Doctor Number One. Doctor Number Two came into my life when my heart started doing strange flip- flops that caused me to faint. Halter monitors became a way of life while I wasn’t eating cholesterol and tryglycerides and taking my pills. Doctor Number Three showed up in my hospital room with the information that I was now severely diabetic. Luckily the hospital had placed me on the first floor, because if I had had a high window, I would have jumped. My father had had the same exact conditions; he had determined that if he couldn’t eat what he wanted, he would rather be dead. He achieved his goal some 10 years before. He missed a great deal by not being there. My youngest sister had died of a massive coronary at a very young age, 32. She had weighed 300 pounds at the time. I was not ready to join them, and so my battle began.

I refused insulin for years, and tried to control my disease with pills and diet. Eventually, insulin injections were necessary. I hated it, but I did it. It has taken years of experimentation with diet and dosage and looking for a doctor who could treat the real me, not the patient who was sick, but Kathy who was being challenged on all fronts. Finally, I found him, he found me a diet that works for me and doesn’t make me feel deprived. He has even found a new drug that may allow me to go off the insulin injections all together. I needed a partner because my diabetes, if it is not controlled, will kill my other organs. I had it explained to me this way; diabetes changes the blood. Instead of being nice and smooth to glide through vessels and organs, it gets like a Brillo Pad, it scratches everything it touches and eventually the scars it leaves behind destroys blood vessels. Now, that isn’t a very technical explanation, but I can visualize it. It can cause stroke, heart disease, amputation and a score of other unpleasant outcomes like blindness.

With any luck the Baby Boom Generation will defeat this disease, but until then, all I can do is to control it by controlling me. I can do that, food is not more important to me than enjoying my grandchildren. Food can be managed, Diabetes Mellitus can be managed, and I am just the girl to do it.

George, age 61
I am not the kind of guy who likes to see a doctor. I will be honest, I don’t like the thought of even being sick. And I never am. Or should I put that in past tense, I never was. Luckily for me, I did see a doctor for routine checkups twice a year. During one of these visits he found sugar in my urine. He then sent me for blood testing. The good news was that I had been tested promptly; the bad news was that I had become diabetic.

I wasn’t fat; I wasn’t even particularly fond of sweets. I had been told in my 20’s that I was hypoglycemic. That meant that I was not utilizing sugars properly. But, it wasn’t anything you could fix and it wasn’t considered dangerous. I simply had spikes of high and low blood sugar levels. Apparently, after so many years of not being normal, my pancreas was just giving out. I have a terrible aversion to need needles, so I refused insulin injections. But, with the correct dosage of medication in pill form and a new diet plan, I was able to bring things under control.

I added a 5-mile walk a day to my schedule and that was the hardest part. But, as my pace increased, I found it exhilarating. I now have a heart problem which is unrelated to the diabetes and had to have a pace maker installed in my chest. But, I am still walking and still eating properly and still taking my medicine as prescribed. It won’t ever be easy, but I have stopped thinking of the disease and have started to be glad that I live now. There are so many things to help me through this.

God bless medical science and the men and women who practice their healing arts to give us all a higher quality of life, regardless of what life and genetics throws at us. But, in the end it is me who will make the ultimate difference. It is my battle to fight and win. Every morning I get up and say to myself, "Someday I am going to die, but it won’t be today." I know that one day I will be wrong, but I choose to concentrate on all the days I will be right.