Joslin Diabetes Center, global leader in diabetes research, care and education, announced today a new free educational tool on its Web site -- the Staying Healthy with Diabetes video series. The set of six short videos gives people with diabetes important information about the regular tests they need to have done to live a healthier life. Several of Joslin's internationally recognized physicians are featured in these videos, available now on http://www.joslin.org.
The number of Americans with diabetes approaches 21 million, and now 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Joslin's Web site continues to be a key resource for those affected by the disease, providing an online diabetes library and the latest information about diabetes research and care at Joslin. The video series, which adds new audio-visual educational materials to Joslin's Web site, gives details about the importance of incorporating these six tests into standard diabetes care.
"At Joslin, we believe that active participation through self management and empowerment form the key to successful treatment of diabetes," explains Martin Abrahamson, M.D., Medical Director at Joslin Diabetes Center. "These videos give people with diabetes details about what the six tests measure and guidelines on what the results should be. This allows patients to work closely with their healthcare team to achieve their personal goals and stay healthy with diabetes."
Below is important information about the six tests:
A1C Test: Presented by Dr. Martin Abrahamson --The A1C test reflects the average blood glucose level for a two to three month period prior to the test and measures how well diabetes is being controlled. Joslin recommends people with diabetes have an A1C done every three to six months, achieving a level of 7 percent or lower, while also checking blood glucose levels at home on a daily basis. Dr. Abrahamson states, "Controlling blood glucose levels through A1C tests and home blood glucose monitoring are critical to staying healthy and avoiding the serious consequences of diabetes-related complications, including heart disease, eye disease and kidney failure."
Blood Pressure Test: Presented by Florence M. Brown, M.D., Co-Director, Joslin and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Diabetes and Pregnancy Program --Monitoring blood pressure levels is critical for people with diabetes. Joslin recommends blood pressure levels be taken at every doctor's office visit, with a target of 130/80 mmHg or better, and if kidney complications from diabetes have already developed, the target should be at or below 125/75 mmHg. "Diet, exercise, losing weight, minimizing stress, and reducing salt and caffeine intake all have a positive effect on blood pressure levels," emphasizes Dr. Brown.
Eye Exam: Presented by Deborah K. Schlossman, M.D., Ophthalmologist, Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center -- Diabetic retinopathy is the most common sight-threatening eye disease for people with diabetes, but vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy can be prevented in the majority of cases. Joslin recommends a three-prong approach to eye care: maintain excellent A1C levels; keep blood pressure and other health factors in check; and have an annual eye exam involving either pupil dilation (where the doctor places drops in the eyes) or specially validated photographs of the retinas (the back of the eyes). "Although there are a variety of treatments for diabetic retinopathy, the earlier it is diagnosed and care begins, the more effective the treatment," she advises. Even if there are no eye or vision problems, an eye exam should be performed yearly to monitor eye health and determine the best follow-up care or treatment.
Foot Exam: Presented by Richard A. Jackson, M.D., Senior Physician, Joslin Diabetes Center -- Poorly controlled diabetes can cause circulation problems and also can cause neuropathy, or damage to the nerves leading to a loss of feeling or sensation. Joslin recommends people with diabetes have their feet examined at least once a year for altered sensation, decreased circulation and/or infection. "Smoking has a huge impact on the likelihood of people with diabetes developing foot complications because it affects circulation and causes nerve damage," notes Dr. Jackson.
Kidney Function Test: Presented by Robert C. Stanton, M.D., Chief of Nephrology, Joslin Diabetes Center -- Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure across the globe. Joslin recommends an annual microalbumin urine test to detect the presence of protein or albumin. Patients also should have creatinine levels monitored and a GFR, or estimated glomerular filtration rate, calculated for early signs of kidney disease. "Twenty to 40 percent of people with diabetes develop kidney disease, but when diagnosed early and treated, patients have better odds for healthy kidneys," explains Dr. Stanton.
Lipid Levels Test: Presented by Om P. Ganda, M.D., Director of the Lipid Clinic, Joslin Diabetes Center -- Because research indicates that high levels of lipids, or blood fats, increase the risk of heart disease, Joslin recommends people with diabetes have their lipid levels screened at least once a year. Joslin recommends an LDL level of less than 100; for people with a history of heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease, an LDL of 70 or less is advised. Dr. Ganda comments, "People with diabetes need to get the LDL, or bad cholesterol, level as low as possible because it is the most important factor causing cardiovascular disease."