New Guidelines Will Help Health Care Providers Detect And Manage Diabetes

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The guidelines will help health care providers detect and manage diabetes.

"Diabetes is harming the health of thousands of Missourians," said Victoria Warren, coordinator of the health department's Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. "The disease can greatly reduce a person's quality of life and contribute to a number of disabling conditions including heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation and kidney disease."

The new guidelines were developed by work groups coordinated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Group members represented key organizations committed to improving diabetes care in Missouri.

Diabetes has nearly doubled in Missouri since 1990, according to the state health department. The disease is the state's sixth leading cause of death.

The impact of diabetes is emphasized throughout the United States on Diabetes Alert Day, March 27. Nearly 337,000 Missourians had diabetes in 2005, compared to just over 300,000 two years earlier. Thousands more have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed. Health experts estimates that nearly one-third of people with diabetes don't know they have it.

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There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, formerly known as insulin dependent diabetes; Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as non-insulin dependent diabetes; and gestational diabetes, which develops in up to five percent of all pregnant women. Most people with diabetes have Type 2.

Before people develop Type 2 diabetes, they almost always have a condition known as pre-diabetes, according to the health department. New research has shown that some damage to the body - especially to the heart and circulatory system - may already be occurring in people with pre-diabetes.

"It is crucial to discover pre-diabetes and diabetes in their earliest stages in order to prevent damage to the body that could ultimately result in premature death," Warren said.

Because early intervention is vital, the goal of the new diabetes screening guidelines is to help health care providers detect the disease and begin treatment. The goal of the management guideline is to assure appropriate treatment to prevent or reduce serious complications.

The health department recommends that everyone over 45 years of age visit a health care provider for an annual diabetes screening. Younger adults with one or more risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure or a family history of diabetes should also be screened annually for the disease.

People with diabetes should see a health care provider for follow-up every three to six months or more often based on control problems or complications.

Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, regular physical activity and modest weight loss, can significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This could delay the onset of the disease or prevent it altogether, according to the health department.

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