Diabetes Education: Helping Our Patients Understand and Manage Their Condition

Martha_Gulati_image_comm_2015_08_04This post was authored by Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, editor-in-chief of ACC’s CardioSmart.

The global diabetes epidemic continues to grow at an alarming pace. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, with deaths from diabetes expected to increase by more than 50 percent in the next decade. In the U.S. alone, a recent study estimates nearly half of adults have diabetes or prediabetes.

Diabetes also comes at a high price. The total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion and the average medical expenditure among people with diabetes is more than two times higher than those without the disease. Further, indirect costs amount to $69 billion (disability, work loss and premature mortality).

These numbers are alarming, but we can all play a role in the fight against diabetes. The first place to start is by educating our patients about diabetes and helping them better understand and manage their condition(s). As cardiovascular professionals, in particular, it is our job to ensure our patients understand that diabetes is a leading cause of premature illness and death, mainly through the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and leave diabetes care up to others. In my role as CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief, I am focused on finding ways to make this as seamless as possible within regular patient interactions. For example, CardioSmart recently released a special infographic focused on type 2 diabetes – what it is, what are its symptoms and why it is dangerous (see below). Using visuals like this infographic to explain the symptoms and what body parts can be affected by diabetes, has proven to help patients better, and more quickly understand the implications of their condition.

We also have a robust number of patient education materials and other online interactive tools (like this patient quiz) aimed at teaching patients about the importance of eating a healthy diet; getting regular exercise; maintaining a healthy weight; adhering to medications; quitting smoking; and properly managing blood pressure.

When it comes to diabetes education and support everyone has a role! As we continue to raise awareness about diabetes this November, it’s a good time to be mindful of the tools and resources available to help us do our part to prevent and treat this disease.

Z1543_CardioSmartInfogfx_Diabetes_v4_FINAL 10-20-15

 

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