As the incidence of diabetes grows at an alarming rate in the United States, Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Diabetes Education Program is helping Northwest Colorado residents to understand, manage and prevent the disease.
A key part of the effort is YVMC’s annual diabetes exhibit from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 8. The exhibit will provide a variety of educational materials and demonstrations of the latest technology used to monitor and treat diabetes.
The exhibit is free and open to anyone who has diabetes or wants to learn more about it. The open-house format does not require registration. A Spanish interpreter will be available.
Longtime Steamboat Springs diabetes educator Jane K. Dickinson will be there to discuss her new book, “People With Diabetes Can Eat Anything: It’s All About Balance.” Written for people with diabetes and their family members, the book provides readers with the tools to feel empowered, confident and prepared to make healthy choices.
“Self-ownership is an important step in managing this disease,” Steamboat Springs internist Dr. Kevin Borgerding said. Borgerding, medical director of YVMC’s Diabetes Education Program, said America’s epidemic of diabetes is largely attributable to an epidemic of obesity.
“Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, is very preventable,” he said. “The two biggest predictors of developing diabetes are genetics, which we can’t do anything about, and weight, which we can do our best to control through healthy eating and exercise.”
Type 2 diabetes, in which the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce the hormone insulin, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases. Risk factors include old age, obesity (especially around the waist), family history, having diabetes while pregnant, a sedentary lifestyle and race/ethnicity.
The rarer Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused by a lack of insulin because of the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in children and young adults, though it can appear at any age.
Both types of diabetes are characterized by high blood glucose, which develops when the body is unable to absorb glucose and use it for energy. Other associated health issues are high blood pressure and abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26 million Americans have diabetes. An additional 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition that raises the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
“Prediabetes involves the same metabolic process, but the blood sugar levels are just not quite high enough to call it diabetes,” Borgerding said. “Both prediabetes and diabetes put people at risk for heart disease and stroke.
“In fact, we consider a patient who has diabetes and no previous heart issues to be at the same cardiac risk as someone who has already had a heart attack but who does not have diabetes,” he said.
Although Colorado and Routt County have below-average rates of diabetes, Borgerding said obesity is a growing issue here, especially among children and teenagers. Another cause for concern is the fact some people who have diabetes have not been diagnosed.
“Anyone with a family history of diabetes who is even a little overweight should be screened annually,” Borgerding said. “A simple blood test is all that is necessary to diagnose diabetes. It is important to catch this disease early so it can be managed.”
More information about preventing, diagnosing and treating diabetes will be available at the April 8 diabetes exhibit. Representatives from YVMC’s Integrated Health and six national companies will be available to provide information and answer questions.
Christine McKelvie is a writer/editor for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.