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Preventing Complications of Diabetes

Preventing Complications of Diabetes

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and the disease ranks as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. About 86 million adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, but structured lifestyle-change programs have been shown to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by 60%. Although encouraging, the task of preventing complications in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be challenging because these individuals often do not qualify for enrollment into diabetes prevention programs. With type 2 diabetes, several types of complications can occur over time, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy, among others. Many of these complications produce no symptoms during the early stages of diabetes, but most can be prevented or minimized with a combination of regular medical care and blood sugar monitoring. “Even after patients are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, clinicians should make efforts to ensure that other prevention strategies are initiated and used throughout follow-up,” says John B. Buse, MD, PhD. Guide Patients to Interventions It is critically important that physicians recommend lifestyle interventions to patients who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Buse. The American Diabetes Association has released toolkits for clinicians that are intended for use with their patients, including segments on optimizing care of the disease (Table 1) and preventing cardiovascular complications (Table 2), among several others. Dr. Buse says these resources and others can be especially helpful when having discussions with patients about what they will need to do to prevent diabetes-related complications. Clinical guidelines recommend screening patients for prediabetes early in order to prevent progression to type 2...
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