People with diabetes Hold Power to Understand, Monitor and Manage Disease

Major health organization outlines four-step plan to better health

Halderman HSDAYTON, Ohio (October 9, 2014) – Diabetes is a serious diagnosis that can often leave an individual feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, but a proper outlook and concrete plan can help change that.

Newly released statistics by the American Diabetes Association Off Site Icon (ADA) show that more than 9 percent, or 29.1 million, of Americans had diabetes in 2012. That’s up from 2010 when 8.3 percent or 25.8 million of Americans had the disease, the association said. 

These are sobering numbers since diabetes places individuals at risk for other health issues including cardiovascular disease, kidney complications and vision problems. For some, the disease can be fatal. In 2010, nearly 70,000 death certificates listed diabetes as the underlying cause of death.

Still, a diabetes diagnosis can serve as a springboard toward living a healthier life. Diabetics should know they have control over their future outcomes. Proper management of the disease and necessary lifestyle changes can affect the severity of their disease and determine how much medication, if any, is needed to control it, said Wes Halderman, MD, at Jamestown Family Medicine .

Dr. Halderman said diabetics can benefit from following a four-step process outlined by the National Diabetes Education Program Off Site Icon (NDEP). These steps were created to help diabetics understand, monitor and manage their disease and stay healthy.

Learn about diabetes – One of the biggest challenges is for patients to understand diabetes. This includes what type they have and the seriousness of the disease.

“Diabetes is poorly understood,” Dr. Halderman said. “In the simplest form, diabetes is the body’s inability to process carbohydrates. Most people think this just includes sugar, but carbs also include starches, grains and breads.”

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, where the body does not produce insulin, Type 2, where the body produces insulin but does not use it well, and gestational, which includes women who develop the disease during pregnancy. Diabetics need to also understand the seriousness of the disease. People who say their “blood sugar is just a little too high,” prove that they do not understand the effect the disease can have on their body, according to the NDEP.

Know your diabetes ABCs – Some of the most important health indicators a person with diabetes can monitor is their A1C counts, blood pressure and cholesterol. The proper management of the three can help a diabetic reduce their risk of having a stroke, heart attack or other diabetic problems, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“A1C is an average of a person’s blood sugar over the previous three months,” said Dr. Halderman, who practices within the Premier HealthNet Off Site Icon network. “A blood sugar test can give the level of glucose in the blood at one given time, but A1C provides a more accurate picture of how blood sugar is being managed.”

Individuals should work with their physician to determine their target A1C level according to their health, age and daily activity level, he said. 

Learn to live with diabetes – Eating right and staying active is a good prescription for any adult, but especially for diabetics. A poor diet and sedentary lifestyle may contribute to individuals developing type 2 diabetes. Eating healthier – by reducing simple carbohydrates and increasing complex carbohydrates like whole grains – and staying active can not only help manage the disease, but also improve it. Online resources like or can help guide a diabetic’s eating habits.

“A person’s weight is equally as important as the nutrients they are eating,” Dr. Halderman said. “Even a weight loss of 20 to 30 pounds in small gradual stages can make someone’s body more sensitive to insulin.”

Seek support – Diabetics will be more successful if they seek support of others including physicians, loved ones and other diabetics.

“A lifestyle change is one of the hardest things to do. It’s much easier just to take a pill,” Dr. Halderman said. “We find that when individuals have a strong support system they are more likely to stick with the goals they make for their health.”

For more information on diabetes or to find a Premier HealthNet physician near you, visit

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