Overcoming the diagnosis of diabetes
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. An estimated 29.1 people have diabetes, that’s one out of four people and 9 out of 10 don’t even know they have pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For Harold Echternach, a patient at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., he stumbled upon finding out he was pre-diabetic.
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), Americans over the age of 45 are recommended to be screened for diabetes through their primary care physician. Adults that are screened, regardless of age, race/ethnicity, genetic predisposition to insulin resistance or family history, can help manage the disease earlier, which in turn means better health outcomes.
What is diabetes?
There are several types of diabetes, including Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and anyone can be diagnosed with the disease. Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s important source of fuel.
Those who are at a higher risk for diabetes include people who are obese or overweight, have low HDL cholesterol or high blood pressure, and certain racial/ethnic groups (African American, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian American/Pacific Islanders). Type 2 diabetes can also run in the family
Harold Echternach of Crystal Lake, Ill., attended a diabetes screening event sponsored by Good Shepherd Hospital in April of 2012. Dr. Daniel So, an endocrinologist on staff at Good Shepherd Hospital, quickly pinpointed that Echternach had a strong family history of diabetes. Both his mother and father were diabetic in their later years of their life, his father had to get his right leg amputated and both expired from complications due to diabetes. Recently, he just found out his sister at 68-years-old has also been diagnosed with diabetes.
“I was all too familiar with the fact that diabetes ran in my family. I wanted to take charge of my health and be proactive so I made a conscious decision to attend the screenings,” Echternach says. “The first screening I attended, Dr. So noticed that I had moderately elevated blood sugar and a strong family history. He highly recommended I go on a diet and exercise on a regular basis. Since then I’ve lost over 40 pounds and have more energy than ever. Without Dr. So and the screening, I would’ve never been able to keep a close eye on the disease and I now have a plan in place to move forward.”
“Prevention with lifestyle changes like weight loss and increased physical activity is the key to preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes and in some cases return blood glucose levels within normal range,” Dr. So says. “People with pre-diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, but not everyone with pre-diabetes will progress to diabetes.”
Dr. So encourages patients to get a diabetes screening at least once a year. “The recommendation from the USPSTF will help to diagnose patients earlier so that they can get on a plan to help prevent the disease.”
Echternach is looking forward to the next screening: “Maintaining my weight and watching my numbers has been a constant struggle that I’ve had to deal with every day. But I know I can overcome this!”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.