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Creating healthier habits at WCH Diabetic Clinic during National Diabetes Month and everyday

Catherine Wiandt and Rod Fought take advantage of some beautiful autumn weather by taking a walk through the OARDC in Wooster.

submitted photo

“Nearly 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and a third of those don’t even realize it,” said Carol Inkrott, dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Wooster Community Hospital. Another 79 million have prediabetes, a condition that not only puts them at risk of developing full-blown diabetes but also signifies that damage to blood vessels and nerves has already begun.

“It is a big deal—it’s not something to ignore,” said Inkrott. Complications of diabetes may include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

The American Diabetes Association has designated November as National Diabetes Month in an effort to raise awareness of this ever-growing disease and how to prevent it. Diabetes can be prevented or managed with a healthy diet and regular, moderate exercise. Even small amounts of weight loss can greatly lower the risk.

Risk factors for developing diabetes include family history, age, ethnicity, having gestational diabetes or a baby weighing over nine pounds, obesity, lack of exercise and sleep, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and triglycerides. Blood sugar screening is recommended for everyone over 45 and anyone who is overweight with one or more risk factors.

Wooster Community Hospital’s Diabetic Clinic offers diabetes self-management training and medical nutrition therapy as well as a free support group.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects that one in three people may have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue. This epidemic is largely due to lifestyle factors. “We’ve become a very sedentary society,” said Diane Rowe, BSN, Registered Nurse and certified diabetes educator at Wooster Community Hospital’s Diabetic Clinic. “We don’t go out and beat rugs or wash clothes by hand anymore. With all our technology we don’t move as much as we used to.”

In addition, a diet of low-nutrient, high-calorie foods has replaced healthier choices like fresh produce and whole grains for many families. People often rely on processed foods because of cost and convenience factors. But these foods are not filling and make it easy to consume too many calories--especially when they are eaten mindlessly, said Carol Inkrott, dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the hospital’s diabetic clinic.

These unhealthy habits can cause very serious problems. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 95 percent of all cases, is a progressive disease that develops over decades as the body develops resistance to insulin. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputations. It is also a major cause of heart disease and stroke.

Most people go through a period of prediabetes before developing the full-blown disease. Even during this stage, damage to the blood vessels and nerves is occurring. “This is the stage where you can make changes and really make a difference,” said Rowe.

That’s where the diabetic clinic comes in. Rowe and other staff offer patients tools and support to make the needed changes. Patients enrolled in the program meet with a dietitian and a nurse, both individually and in group sessions. “We get into their eating world and talk about what they eat, how much and when they eat, as well as changes that can lead to better weight and blood sugar control,” said Inkrott. Patients also learn about using a glucose meter, foot care and other medical issues.

Catherine Wiandt, of Burbank, said she got serious about diabetes following a heart attack and subsequent high blood sugar reading. The diabetic clinic helped her get on the right track. “I had taken a class before, but even with my knowledge I needed support to get going in the right direction,” she said. “It was a reminder that I need to stay serious about it and never take my health for granted.”

Rod Fought, of Wooster, credits the diabetic clinic with helping him to lose more than 100 pounds and reverse his diabetes. “The educators really taught me a lot about food portions, exercise and what it does for your blood sugar and weight loss. I give them all the credit in the world,” he said.

Rowe noted that most people with Type 2 diabetes do not have symptoms and don’t know they have it until they get a blood test. Blood sugar screening is recommended for everyone over 45 and anyone who is overweight with one or more risk factors.

“Diabetes can be delayed or prevented with good lifestyle practices,” she said. “Blindness, amputations and other problems can be minimized if not prevented entirely. Therein lies the hope and the reason we do what we do.”

“Our message is: make the effort to see what your blood sugar is and be proactive,” said Inkrott. “You will increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life. We’re here to help!”

The next free support group meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. in the hospital auditorium on “Holiday Parties, Stress and Diabetes – Keep Yourself on Track.” To register for this program, or for more information on diabetes education at Wooster Community Hospital, call 330-263-8196 or visit www.woosterhospital.org.

This article is underwritten by Wooster Community Hospital.

Published: November 12, 2012
New Article ID: 2012711129934