Diabetes Alert Day

Diabetes Alert Day

HEART HEALTH

Diabetes Alert Day

How to avoid becoming a
statistic in America’s
diabetes trend

American Diabetes Association Alert Day is observed annually on the fourth Tuesday in March. This one-day “wake-up call” informs the American public about the seriousness of diabetes and encourages all to take the diabetes risk test and learn about your family’s history of diabetes. This year, I had a conversation with Bob Russell, Upstate New York Executive Director of the American Diabetes Associates (ADA) and Felix Perez, Market Director for the ADA in Albany.

There are some shocking stats on diabetes: Almost 10% of the American population is affected by diabetes. Nearly 1 in 4 American adults living with diabetes are unaware they have it. Bob Russell was personally compelled to change that statistic because he is one of those Americans. He was twenty-five years old when he was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes. “I was in the best shape of my life. I wasn’t sure what it meant. I certainly didn’t realize that it was a life-long disease that I would be dealing with. I remember joking with my doctor, ‘a few less beers, a few less chicken wings, right?’ I didn’t understand the complete change in lifestyle,” said Russell.

Three types of diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and gestational. Understanding what type and what the options are available is part of the problem of living with diabetes. “It’s a multi-pronged disease,” Russell begins. “That’s where the confusion begins. Diabetes is often a punchline in movies and TV shows. ‘Oh, there’s a plate of chocolate; you must have diabetes.’ That’s not the reality of it. We have kids as young as ten months old being diagnosed with this; it really is an auto-immune disease.” In all types, diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces.

What you need to know about diabetes

Type 1.The CDC estimates that nearly 1.6 million Americans have it, including about 187,000 children and adolescents. When you have type 1 diabetes, your body produces very little or no insulin, which means that you need daily insulin injections to maintain blood glucose levels under control. Type 1 diabetes occurs at every age, in people of every race, and of every shape and size.

Type 2.Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and accounts for around 90% of all cases. It means that your body doesn’t use insulin properly. While some people can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin to help manage it.

Gestational diabetes (GDM). This type of diabetes consists of high blood glucose during pregnancy and is associated with complications to both mother and child. It happens to millions of women. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy, but women affected, and their children are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Health risks of uncontrolled diabetes

Diabetes is treatable; it does become dangerous when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes. “This is called ‘the silent disease,'” adds Russell. Undiagnosed and uncontrolled diabetes leads to a wide array of health problems like high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar levels. This is a long-term process, a development that occurs over the years where a normally healthy person becomes less active over time gains bodyweight, which leads to a lifetime of damage to vital organs. “By the time you realize what is happening, that damage is already done and can’t be reversed.”

Diabetes has been proven to affect your vision, one of the warning signs that Bob Russell recalled before his diagnosis. “I was having problems with my vision. I got new glasses. Two weeks later, I went for blood work. That’s when I got a call from the nurse that I needed to meet the doctor in the emergency room right now. My blood sugar levels were 790. I was feeling fine, but there were symptoms that were leading up to this. Excessive thirst, frequent urination. When you are active, you don’t think these are a sign of diabetes. That’s the problem.”

Common diabetes complications

Vision.
High blood sugar can damage blood vessels in the eyes which are the leading cause of blindness in adults age 20-74 according to the National Eye Institute. This is why a yearly eye exam is important.

Nerve damage.
High blood sugar affects the hands and feet. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can also lead to chronic brain damage.

Heart disease.
The American Heart Association considers diabetes to be one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Kidney disease. Diabetes is a major cause of kidney failure and other kidney problems.

Pregnancy complications.
Women with any type of diabetes during pregnancy risk a number of complications if they do not carefully monitor and manage their condition.

Know your risk

Since diabetes can strike anyone at any age, at any time, the message of Diabetes Alert Day is to know your risk. “One of the tools we use is the ADA Risk Test. It’s seven simple questions you take; all it takes is 60 seconds of your time,” said Perez. The test collects your age, gender, family history, high blood pressure history, level of physical activity, race, height, and weight. A high score on the online Risk Test (five or higher) means an individual has a significant risk for having undiagnosed pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes; however, only a blood test can determine a diagnosis. In my case, it led to having a conversation on my risk of type 2 with my doctor during my yearly visit. During my doctor’s appointment, we discussed how losing 10-15 pounds can make a big difference, as well as the role of even occasional tobacco use, affects my cholesterol levels.

Pre-diabetes affects almost 88 million Americans. The American Heart Association described pre-diabetes as a point where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet crossing the threshold of a diabetes diagnosis. “Three years ago there were 84 million people living with pre-diabetes, meaning that they are not there yet, but they are headed in that direction. The CDC just released their latest report; the number is now 88 million people. We are going in the wrong direction,” added Russell. Many people with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within ten years. Overweight adults over the age of 45 with a family history of type 2 diabetes are at risk. We also know that African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk. You can make lifestyle and health changes, like losing 10-15 pounds, for example, to lower your risk of advancing to type 2 diabetes.

Knowledge is key. That is the message from diabetes alert day. Take the ADA Self Test. Talk with your doctor about your family history and personal risk. Have your A1C levels checked with a simple blood test, if recommended. Most importantly, stay active and live well. You can live with diabetes. While there is no cure, millions of people live healthy lives. The American Diabetes Association has a great online resource, the ADA Support Community, a dedicated and passionate online community that shares education, health recipes, and activity/exercise workouts to keep you living your best life.

Written by Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator. Host of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates.

Why Statins?

Why Statins?

PATIENT EDUCATION

Why doctors prescribe statins

How a half a billion-year war between ancient
bacteria and fungi have helped to lower
cholesterol and become a new weapon
to fight cancer

About 40 million adults in the U.S. take a statin to lower their cholesterol and to reduce their risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. New research suggests a possible anti-cancer benefit for statins. Dr. Robert Benton, Director of Research at Capital Cardiology Associates, explains how statins became one of the standard medications prescribed for heart health.

The link to lowering cholesterol production

Some say the history of statins in medicine begins with Virchow, the German pathologist and one of the 19th century’s foremost leaders in medicine and pathology. He discovered a yellow, fatty substance on the artery walls of patients dying of heart disease or a heart attack before the turn of the century. That plaque was later identified as cholesterol. At that time, physicians were not convinced of the link between cholesterol and coronary heart disease. That connection would not be made until the 1950s.

The Seven Countries Study, initiated in the 1950s, brought together researchers from all over the world. It became a collective effort to study their common questions about heart and vascular diseases among countries with different traditions in diets and lifestyles. This study focused on coronary disease and cholesterol in Italy, Spain, South Africa, and Japan from 1952 to 1956 and Finland, Italy, and Greece from 1956 to 1957. We learned that cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking are universal risk factors for coronary heart disease. The discovery was made that when the body makes too much cholesterol, there is a higher risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

Researchers began studying how to lower cholesterol to benefit patients. They tried using diet modifications at first, promoting the eating pattern they found in Italy and Greece in the 1950s and 60s, now popularly called “The Mediterranean Diet.” By the mid-1960s, scientists were exploring for ways to alter how cholesterol was produced, chemically. In the 1970s, a microbiologist in Japan, Akira Endo, added research into how antimicrobial agents reduced cholesterol. “It’s almost like the discovery of penicillin. You find the effect of one organism on another and use that to attack a problem. This is a similar thought process that led to finding statins,” noted Dr. Benton. By 1978, the first statin, lovastatin, was discovered.

What is a statin

“A statin is an enzyme that works in your liver to help you make cholesterol, usually at night. What the statins do as a class of medicine, is prevent that long chain of metabolic steps from being completed,” explained Dr. Benton. By the mid-1980s, lovastatin became available for prescription use and was able to reduce LDL cholesterol, producing very few side effects effectively. “I don’t remember my first statin prescription; it was probably in medical school in the early 1990s. When I became a cardiologist, that’s when statins became standard in the care of patients. There were other medicines that we used before that which were not as effective,” recalled Benton.

Simvastatin (Zocor) was the second statin used clinically. Pravastatin (Pravachol) followed in 1991, fluvastatin (Lescol) in 1994, atorvastatin (Lipitor) in 1997, cerivastatin (Baycol, Lipobay) in 1998, and rosuvastatin (Crestor) in 2003. “What happens is there is one chemical entity, and science tries to make it better. Can it be better absorbed, lasts longer, have a better target, or durability? Clinical trials then test to see if it’s safe and effective in lowering cholesterol and heart disease endpoints. That’s how you make the progression through the different statins that have been prescribed over time,” outlined Dr. Benton. Today, statins are one of the most common medicines prescribed in the U.S., with about 40 million people taking them. “Statins are clearly the first-line therapy along with modifications in diet and exercise in lowering cholesterol. Certainly, for secondary prevention, a person who has had a heart attack or stroke should be on a statin. A person with diabetes should be on a stain. These are generic medicines that do not cost very much,” states Benton.

Statin controversy

For a 42-year old drug, statins have had their fair share of reviews and criticism. A bitter dispute erupted in September of 2016 among doctors over suggestions that statins should be prescribed to millions of healthy people at low risk of heart disease. The controversy focuses on who should receive statings and how common/serious are the side effects. Dr. Benton is well aware of the conflict, “like any medicine; there is a risk/benefit profile. I think there is no controversy for being on a statin for secondary prevention after a cardiac or vascular event – that’s not an issue.” In 2013, a joint task force of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association released guidelines for treating cholesterol. These guidelines focused on treating the patient based on his or her risk of developing heart disease, not a target number.

GROUP I

People without cardiovascular disease who have risk factors for the disease and a higher 10-year risk of a heart attack. This group includes people who have diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or who smoke and whose 10-year risk of a heart attack is 7.5 percent or higher.

GROUP II

People who already have cardiovascular disease related to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This group includes people who have had heart attacks, strokes caused by blockages in a blood vessel, ministrokes (transient ischemic attacks), peripheral artery disease, or prior surgery to open or replace coronary arteries.

GROUP III

People who have very high LDL (bad) cholesterol. This group includes adults who have LDL cholesterol levels of 190 mg/dL (4.9 mmol/L) or higher.

GROUP IV

People who have diabetes. This group includes adults who have diabetes and an LDL between 70 and 189 mg/dL (1.8 and 4.9 mmol/L), especially if they have evidence of vascular disease or other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, smoking or being older than age 40.

The most common side effect of statins is muscle ache or pain. “Somewhere around 5 to 10% of people have muscle ache or myalgia. That’s real,” said Dr. Benton. Typically, aches and pain can be eliminated by changing the dose, frequency, or type of statin. Please talk with your doctor about your concerns as they can usually find a statin that you can tolerate without side effects. “There are people who are at a predisposition to have mild muscle aches. In extreme rare occurrences, there is dissolution of the muscles, they become destroyed, but that is a sporadic occurrence.”

There is a controversial link between statins and memory loss. A John Hopkins review of dozens of studies on the use of statin medications to prevent heart attacks shows that the commonly prescribed drugs pose no threat to short-term memory and that they may even protect against dementia when taken for more than one year. “All medications, including stat-ins, may cause side effects, and many patients take multiple medicines that could theoretically interact with each other and cause cognitive problems,” says Kristopher Swiger, a primary author of the study. In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made labeling changes to statins to outline the potential for non-serious and reversible side effects, which include: memory loss and confusion, increased blood sugar, increased hemoglobin A1c levels.

Statins anti-cancer properties

Doctors at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina investigated whether statin use affected outcomes in veterans at a VA Medical Center who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. They found that after five years, those taking a statin were 38% less likely to die from colorectal cancer. How does a cholesterol drug fight cancer? Dr. Benton explained how statins block the same enzyme the body needs to make cholesterol, called HMG-CoA. This process also slows cancer cell growth. “There are multiple enzymes in cancer cells. Statins, as a class of medicines, have many different targets that they work on. Any type of chemical entity that would interfere with that pathway of growth is probably a method of preventing cancer cells from progressing. I don’t think you are going to find people treating cancer with statins; it may be an off-target approach. You need cancer medicines, chemotherapy or biologics, or radiation, but statins may have some augmented type of function.” Research is also underway on the anti-cancer properties using statins and the diabetes drug metformin (often prescribed together) in men with prostate cancer. Men who took both drugs in a study lived longer than those who only took the statin or those who didn’t take either drug. Researchers believe the drug combo may help slow the growth process of prostate cancer. Expect to see more news on clinical trials using either metformin or a statin in cancer treatment in the coming months.

Written by Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator

The High Cost of Obesity

The High Cost of Obesity

HEART HEALTH

The High Cost of Obesity

How the obesity trend will
impact more than the American
healthcare system in ten years

“Ten years from now, nearly half of U.S. adults will be obese if current trends continue.” Those were the findings in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The team stated that by 2030, 48.9% of adults nationwide will be obese. Obesity affects low-income adults, minorities, and women at higher numbers. It is also one of the three major controllable risk factors in the development of heart disease. “Unfortunately, for myself and my colleagues, we see this trend increasing at an alarming rate,” commented Dr. Heather Stahura, a board-certified cardiologist at Capital Cardiology Associates.

What is obesity?

Harvard researchers shared in their December 2019 findings that they used body-mass index (BMI) data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey (1993–1994 and 1999–2016) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These were large studies of over 6.2 million adults (18 and over) from all 50 states. There has been a controversy within the medical community on the relevancy of BMI. Body mass index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. There is an online calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institue where you enter your height (in feet and inches) along with your weight to compute your BMI. For example, a man who is 6 feet 0 inches, weighing 220 pounds would have a BMI of 29.8. Dr. Stahura points out that this calculation is where the problem begins.

“Obesity means different things to different people. If you want to look at hard endpoints, you will look at BMI. A BMI between 18-25 is considered normal. Over 25 is overweight. Anyone above 30 would be obese. The problem with BMI is that you cannot always say that someone with a BMI of 29.8 is overweight,” explained Dr. Stahura. In this example, the person with a BMI of 29.8 is me, a 42-year old male who ran almost 30 miles in the month of January. “You have to consider the whole person. BMI because it calculates your height to weight, there are outliers. If you are very tall, you may look like you have a higher BMI but be quite healthy. Five pounds of muscle weighs the same as fat. I would say muscle weight is healthier than fat. I think it matters more where you are carrying visceral fat – it’s worse around the stomach than your legs and rear.” This discrepancy, looking at the hard data without considering the patient body composition, is one area where the Harvard study came under fire. The team reported that 1 in 4 adults are projected to have severe obesity by 2030 (BMI above 35), and the prevalence will be higher than 25% in 25 states. The locations of these obese states/areas were the second area of controversy.

Why do some areas of the country struggle with body weight?

Lead study author, Zach Ward, addressed how the obesity prevalence is lower in some states than in others. “Obesity is rising in every state in the United States. And, some states are going to be at a very high level. We find that severe obesity is growing very rapidly in about 25 states.” Three of the states with the highest levels of obesity are Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. “This is a hot button topic,” replied Dr. Stahura. “Unfortunately, a lot of Southern states suffer from a lower socioeconomic status. These states have to conserve their funds, making resources stretch further.” The Harvard team acknowledged that awareness was critical in combatting the obesity crisis. “It’s really hard to lose weight; it’s really hard to treat obesity. Prevention has to be a the forefront to combat this growing epidemic,” noted Ward.

The cost of obesity

There is long-standing research measuring the effect of obesity on the American healthcare system. The medical costs of obesity in the United Staes were estimated to be around $147 billion in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are also concerns that this health epidemic will impact all aspects of the American economy. Obesity imposes costs in the form of lost productivity and foregone economic growth as a result of lost workdays, lower productivity at work, mortality, and permanent disability. “One of the reasons we did this study was to help state policymakers,” said Ward. “And there’s a lot that they can do. One of the most effective and cost-saving interventions is limiting the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Some states are implementing a sugar-sweetened beverage tax. Which we find in some areas would actually save more money than it costs to implement.”

Read more on "Health in All Policies"

Do smoking and soda bans work? “There is an interest in your government, believe it or not, in having you live a healthy lifestyle,” declares Dr. Robert Benton, Clinical Research Director at Capital Cardiology Associates. “The costs of health care are huge in this country. We could save so much if people ate a healthy diet and exercised. Why not let people know that? Why not remind people of that? Not to the point of being onerous but allowing you to make your own decisions, giving you the information to be confident with your lifestyle choices.”

One of the key points stressed by every government health agency, medical professional, and healthcare expert is the need of at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day to combat obesity, heart disease, and other health issues. A healthy diet that emphasizes eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and drinking water is also recommended. “There is a notion of being ‘fit but fat.’ When I talk with my patients, I encourage any activity or exercise, just moving more, even if the scale isn’t reflecting the change they want, as long as they are getting out and moving, that’s a success,” added Dr. Stahura. Having a healthy diet pattern and regular physical activity is also important for long term health benefits and prevention of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, both long-term by-products of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle with poor health choices.

Written by Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

The Polypill

The Polypill

HEART HEALTH

One pill with many benefits

The Polypill has the potential to
reduce cardiovascular disease in
the places that need the most help

The are several barriers for patients in the healthcare system: taking time off for appointments, reliable transportation to your doctor’s office, have a working telephone number, can afford prescription medications, that you speak English, or understand your doctor’s instructions. For cardiac patients that live in remote or rural areas, these challenges seem more overwhelming when travel time or accessibility to a pharmacy or physician are considered. A low-cost, daily pill that combines four cardiac drugs known as “The Polypill” was recently tested in rural Alabama and across Iran and has shown promise to be a solution to undertreated heart patients.

What is the Polypill

Dr. Robert Benton is a board-certified cardiologist, Chief of Cardiology at Samaritan Hospital, and is the Director of Clinical Research at Capital Cardiology Associates. He broke down the Polypill on a recent episode of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates. “These are medicines that we know of: aspirin, a diuretic, a statin, and a blood pressure medicine. One of the questions here is, can we take medications to an at-risk population and combine low-doses of generic medications, which are inexpensive, to see if we can decrease cardiovascular outcomes? As this study in Alabama indicates, yes, yes, we can.” Just over 300 adults living in the Mobile, Alabama participated in The SCCS Polypill Pilot Trial. The trial was made up of adults 45 to 75 years of age without cardiovascular disease. 96% of participants were African-American, with an annual income under $15,000. Their blood pressure (140/83) and LDL cholesterol levels (113 mg) fell just above normal readings. Over 12 months, the study assessed medication adherence, systolic blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol. After one year, the patients on the polypill saw their blood pressure drop, on average, seven points. Their cholesterol fell by 11 points.

“This was more proof of concept trial,” added Dr. Benton. “The Alabama study was small, not an outcome study, but it does show that people who have difficulty accessing healthcare, these medicines can make a difference. We are seeing the cost-analysis of providing generic medications versus the cost of stroke or heart attack. Now we are talking about the cost of healthcare. These generic medications cost almost nothing, maybe $20 a month.” The cost of the polypill in the Alabama trial was $26 per month, although the drugs were free to study participants. Feedback from participants noted that remembering to take one pill was easier than the routine of multiple medications for blood pressure and cholesterol. “What’s really expensive is the cost of a heart attack or a stroke. That’s at least $25,000 to $50,000. We could also analyze congestive heart failure, or a pacemaker, or defibrillator expenses. The most effective thing to do is to take care of people before heart disease,” said Dr. Benton.

Reaching patients in remote areas

In another study, this a much larger trial featuring over 50,000 participants in Iran, looked at delivering drug therapy via a polypill (comprised of a statin, two drugs to lower blood pressure, and low-dose aspirin) to a large number of patients. The study was praised as a significant effort to combat a major global health problem. “What we found, in this case, was a risk reduction of about 30%,” noted Dr. Benton. The polypill in this study was effective in cutting the risk of cardiovascular events by 40% in people with no history of heart disease and by 20% in those with previous symptoms. “These aren’t new medicines,” Dr. Benton explained. “When you develop heart disease or have a cardiac event, you are going to have more than one prescription to take every day. These medications not only lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, or help regulate your heart rhythms, but they also decrease the likelihood of a future event. That’s the most important goal.”

Future of the Polypill

The history of the Polypill began in 1999 when Nicholas Wald, who was director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London at the time, considered combining medicines to combat cardiovascular disease. Wald predicted that around 80% of heart attacks and strokes could be averted if his proposed polypill was taken by everyone aged 55 years and over, and everyone with existing CVD. The debate that followed since Wald’s idea has been over the cost, effectiveness, and practicality of using a mass-treatment approach on at-risk and low-risk populations. There are ethical, legal, and regulatory questions involved in this decision as well. For example, fixed-dose combination pills are not legal in some countries. Dr. Benton is hopeful that time will be on the side of medical science. “The polypill is not available here yet, but we have had some version of mixing a statin and a high blood pressure medication in the past. I think eventually, you will see something like this come around. I don’t think it will be a great product of major pharmaceutical companies; these are ultimately generic medicines. Most physicians will tailor a therapy that includes these medicines, just not in the form of one pill.” Research suggests that future use of a polypill will most likely be prescribed to high-risk patients or those without regular access to a family doctor to prevent future episodes.

Written by Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes Awareness Month

HEART HEALTH

Diabetes Awareness Month

Striving for a life free of diabetes and its burdens

November is Diabetes Awareness month. The number of Americans living with diabetes is staggering: the Centers for Disease Control reported in July of 2017 that nearly 100 million people living in the U.S. have diabetes or pre-diabetes. The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population – have diabetes. As diabetes is becoming more prevalent in our communities, culturally, there is a concern that adults are treating their diagnoses as a condition that can be managed with medication, not as a disease that can cause long-term damage if left untreated. This month on HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates, we discussed the impact of diabetes in the Capital Region from the medical and community health perspectives.

Theresa Beshara is a Nurse Practitioner in Family Health at St. Peter’s Hospital Diabetes and Endocrine Care Center. She has almost twenty years of experience working with diabetics, their families, and caregivers. Theresa attributes bad lifestyle choices as one of the main factors contributing to our nation’s diabetes problem. “We are more sedentary (than earlier generations); we don’t tend to exercise as much. Our diets are better than they were 20 years ago, but we still enjoy fast food meals. We do eat a lot more carbs, and it’s a matter of genetics: we can’t change that piece.” Diabetes does have a hereditary element; it tends to run in families. However, for most people living with diabetes, it is usually a combination of both genetics and lifestyle choices that influence risk factors.

“I think there is a stigma right now with Type 1 that you cause yourself to have it when really it is an auto-immune disease,” says Laura Greenaway, Development Director of the American Diabetes Association in Albany. On our recent HeartTalk episode, Laura shared her family history, how her sister was diagnosed with Type 1 and how different her childhood home went without sodas, sugary snacks, and candies that could be found in her friends and neighbors kitchens. “With Type 2, there is a misbelief that you ate too much, and people aren’t aware of the hereditary factor. Diabetes is a disease that isn’t talked about because it’s not visible. What we are trying to do is help educate people about the different causes, ways to prevent it, and what their risk is.”

As diabetes detection has improved through innovations in technology and testing, nothing replaces the importance of having a yearly discussion with your health care provider on your risk. It’s a talk that needs to happen earlier in life. “If we can get our teenagers to work with their parents to make better food choices, get them involved with an exercise program or school sports, those two things will help with prevention,” said Theresa Beshara. When we talk about the long-term damage unmanaged diabetes does to the body, it’s alarming how an excessive amount of sugar in the system, over time, affects the arteries and blood vessels. As the cardiovascular system stiffens, it causes the heart to work harder to push blood throughout the body. What takes years to develop eventually becomes high blood pressure or atherosclerosis, both triggers for stroke, kidney issues, peripheral vascular disease, and heart failure. This is the mission of the American Diabetes Association, a life free of diabetes and its burdens. “Diabetes is more than blood sugar monitoring; it is a disease that affects every organ in your body and can cause long-term damage if untreated. It is something we all should want to prevent,” said Greenaway.

Awareness. Education. Engagement. Prevention. Those are the goals for the American Diabetes Association during November. “When we talk with physicians or diabetes educators, our partners in the community awareness programs, we talk about the day to day things that people can do,” stated Felix Perez, Market Director for the American Diabetes Association. Capital Cardiology Associates is proud to join the cause to encourage at least 30-minutes of daily activity or exercise, a heart-healthy diet, living smoke-free, and making responsible choices with alcoholic beverages. If you’re ready to make a difference, stand up and be counted by clicking here.

Written by: Michael Arce, host of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates