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Got diabetes? Heritage Health can help

The Coeur d'Alene Press - 11/13/2017

When it comes to blood sugar, what you don't know can kill you.

A recent report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 84 million Americans, or roughly one-third of the population, have prediabetes, a condition marked by higher-than-normal blood sugar. Of that group, 90 percent aren't aware they have the condition.

Nine percent of Heritage Health's 27,898 patients have been diagnosed with diabetes, a long term disease that slowly kills tens of thousands of people annually.

"People aren't getting tested for a variety of reasons, fear being one of them," said Mike Szymanski, MSN, FNP and a provider with Heritage Health. "People are in denial. They don't want to know because once they learn they have diabetes, they're going to be told to change their behaviors and that's extremely challenging to accomplish."

As part of National Diabetes Awareness Month, Heritage Health is encouraging people to get their blood sugar tested and hopes people will focus on making long term lifestyle changes.

"Getting an A1C test is the first step in our diabetes program," said Szymanski. "It's a simple blood draw."

But what is this diabetes?

In type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas generates extra insulin to make up for it. But over time your pancreas isn't able to keep up and can't make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels normal. Type 2 is treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications, and insulin.

"We can effectively reverse diabetes through lifestyle changes," said Szymanski. "We have an amazing team here to help people control the course of this disease and send it into remission."

Intensive lifestyle changes, including proper nutrition, can reduce the conversion from prediabetes to diabetes by between roughly 60 and 70 percent, said Heritage Health Dietitian Jennifer Ramsrud, MS, RDN, LD.

"If you're prediabetic it's not too late to turn things around," said Ramsrud. "We teach them how food works with their bodies. Many of the people in the program come in with preconceived ideas about what they can or cannot eat. It's not about extremes. This is about lifestyle changes that give them the ability to be healthy."

Heritage Health offers diabetes and prediabetes classes, one on one appointments with a registered dietitian, exercise classes through its Kroc RX program, and medicine review from one of its pharmacists. Heritage Health has addressed people's lack of insurance or limited financial resources with its sliding scale model based on income.

For more information on Heritage Rx, call Heritage Health at (208) 292-0292 or visit: http://www.myheritagehealth.org/krocrx/


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