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Sanford Diabetes Center
Today, 25 years after Sanford Health pioneered diabetes education and management programs in North Dakota, there's good news and bad news to report about this disease.
Research has confirmed what diabetes specialists have believed for many years, that diligent management of diabetes will prevent or delay the devastating complications of diabetes. The results of the Diabetes Control Complication Trial (DCCT) showed that careful control of blood glucose decreased the development of eye disease by up to 76 percent, kidney disease by up to 60 percent and damage to the nerves by 60 percent.
It was the team approach to the care of the patients and intensive self-management training that allowed patients in the DCCT to avoid the damaging effects of their diabetes. The goal of the Sanford Diabetes Center is to equip our patients to properly care for themselves. Good care involves proper meal planning, physical activity, blood glucose monitoring and use of medications including insulin.
It is the many decisions that persons with diabetes make throughout each day that determines how well their diabetes is controlled, not the relatively few decisions that their physicians make with them during their clinic visit.
The bad news is that the number of people with diabetes is increasing and diabetes continues to be a serious threat to the life and health of many people who don't even know they have diabetes.
It is important that people know the warning signs of diabetes and if they are at increased risk for the development of diabetes. Every 60 seconds someone develops diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults, the number one cause of persons entering kidney dialysis programs and the leading cause of limb amputations. Persons with diabetes have five times greater risk for having a stroke and are two to four times as likely to have a heart attack. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in this country. Every 3.5 minutes someone dies from diabetes.
Today there are more treatments available to help manage diabetes and prevent its complications. New medications are available to help persons with type II diabetes control their blood glucose. Metformin (glucophage) helps them to more efficiently use the insulin which their body makes. Precose works to lower blood glucose by slowing the absorption of glucose from the digestive track. Glimeprimide (Amaryl) is related to other currently available oral agents but seem to both increase the production of insulin and improve the utilization of insulin.
A class of drugs known as ACE inhibitors has been shown to effectively control blood pressure and to protect the kidney from the damaging effects of diabetes. ACE inhibitors play an important role in decreasing the rate of kidney disease in diabetes.
The future holds a great deal of promise with the possibility of preventing both type I and type II diabetes, "curing" diabetes through the use of transplant of insulin producing cells, and making the monitoring of blood glucose painless by using infrared light to measure blood glucose. All of these are the hope for the future, but we must keep diabetes under good control in the present.