Hospital Offers Free Screenings during World Diabetes Month

Campaign Focuses on Avoiding Amputations

Bermuda Hospitals Board joins a global diabetes campaign this month highlighting the importance of preventing complications associated with this disease. The hospital will be offering free blood sugar, blood pressure and foot screenings, waist measurements and dietary advice in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) lobby between 10:00am and 2:00pm on 25 November. A podiatrist will also be available to answer questions and provide education about the importance of foot care. Bermuda has one of the highest rates of foot amputations resulting from diabetes among developed countries.

“With increasing numbers of patients being diagnosed with diabetes each year, we want to get the message out that complications from foot problems are among the most serious,” said Debbie Jones, BHB Diabetes Nurse Educator. “Sadly, younger people in Bermuda are now being diagnosed with diabetes. As a result, we even see young people with amputations.”

Worldwide, it is estimated that an amputation reduction rate of over 50% could be realized with better education. “The importance of prevention, care and treatment options cannot be over-emphasized,” said Ms. Jones. “Over 80% of type 2 diabetes is preventable by changing diet, increasing physical activity and improving one’s living environment. But when left untreated, diabetes can lead to renal failure, lower limb amputations, blindness, heart disease, stroke and death.”

The Diabetes Education Centre, located at its new home in the Chronic Disease Management Centre at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, plays a major role in the community, particularly since 20% of the Bermuda population is affected by this condition. This past year alone, 122 patients were diagnosed at the hospital with Type 2 Diabetes. In 2011, 221 clients enrolled in Diabetes Education Centre classes designed to assist and educate newly diagnosed patients. The classes include morning walks, as well as instruction in diet and cooking, as part of an effort to help clients integrate a healthy lifestyle into their daily routine.

“One of the reasons we are focusing on the importance of proper treatment and appropriate foot care this year, is because more than 50% of people with lower extremity amputation require a second amputation within five years,” conclude Ms. Jones. “Sadly, the survival rate for someone with diabetes who has had a below-knee amputation may only be five years. As a result, it is vital for people with diabetes to learn what they can do to lower their risk of complications, to follow the advice of their physicians and to be an active participant in their medical care.”

In addition to free screenings, Diabetes Education Centre staff have scheduled in-service sessions for nurses and Continuing Medical Education presentations for physicians this month.

Diabetes Fact File
• Control of blood glucose through diet, exercise and medication is essential for people with diabetes. Over time, high blood glucose levels can cause nerve and blood vessel damage leading to vision problems, lack of sensation in the hands and feet (neuropathy), kidney damage and poor wound healing.
• Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, foot amputation and kidney dialysis and transplants. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die from heart disease and strokes.
• The treatment of diabetes involves blood glucose testing, proper use of medications, planning healthy meals and regular exercise. Medications must be coordinated with meals, exercise and other activities.
• Exercise is important for blood glucose control because exercise causes an increase in the uptake of glucose into cells and can improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Exercise has the added benefits of promoting weight loss and improving strength and fitness.
• People with diabetes should be careful to wear comfortable, supportive shoes and avoid exercise that raises blood pressure significantly.
• Meal planning involves selecting healthy foods to help maintain consistent blood glucose levels while meeting energy needs for exercise and other activities. The dietary recommendations for preventing and treating diabetes are almost identical to the general recommendations for good health: Emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat meat and dairy and reduce saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugars and salt. The diet should also promote weight loss and weight maintenance, especially for overweight patients.
• Proper diet, blood glucose testing, medication use and regular exercise can improve blood glucose control, reduce the risk of other health problems and improve quality of life in people with diabetes.
• In those with pre-diabetes, these efforts can delay the progression to diabetes and may even result in a return to normal blood glucose. Diet and exercise have also been shown to be more effective than medications in preventing diabetes.

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