#1 health care blogger, well actually #1 patient blogger, but probably the most important one in the whole medical blogosphere, Amy Tenderich has written a book called called Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes about (obviously) how to manage diabetes. We don’t deal much with actual medical care over here at THCB, but for your holiday Monday I thought that an introduction to her book would be a great start. And of course who better to introduce it than Amy herself!
Forget any inkling you may have had that the media is sensationalizing the "diabetes epidemic" story. It’s real folks. In fact, the American Diabetes Association just launched a campaign called "Every 21 Seconds" as in that’s how often another American is diagnosed. Diabetes now affects the lives of 20.8 million children and adults in this country, and at the going rate, could rise to 50 million by the year 2025.
With the medications and tools available here in the US, the devastating effects of this disease are largely preventable.
So why arenât patients doing better? A few simple reasons: theyâre
often under-informed and/or overwhelmed by their diagnosis, and weâre
all pretty much stuck in the outdated state of mind that the doctor
is responsible for treating what ails the patient. In fact, even if
there were enough providers with enough tools and knowledge to handle
every person with diabetes in this country (far from the case), this
still wouldnât be sufficient, because diabetes is the ultimate self-managed disease.
Unless patient themselves know what to do day-in and day-out, and are
motivated to make these efforts, they are on the direct path to the
damaging complications of diabetes, including heart attack and stroke,
blindness, and limb amputations.
Why arenât people diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes motivated to achieve a long and healthy life, you ask? They are, of course. Everyone wants to live well. The trouble is that most patients are on the "do-what-your-doctor-says" or"try-to-do-everything-at-once" diabetes treatment plan, which both tendto lead to inertia, because: 1) diabetes requires dynamic day-to-day management, rather than minimal check-ins with your doctor just 3-4 times a year; and 2) trying to make drastic lifestyle changes can be incredibly overwhelming and frustrating.
In counterpoint, what I try to espouse over at my blog, www.diabetesmine.com, is the "Do-It-Yourself-Good-Health-With-Diabetes" approach: youâve got to learn some basics and take achieving a healthy life into your own hands, rather than expecting some medical
professional to do it for you.
Amazingly, while the "therapeutic goals" for diabetes patients are well-publicized, nobody gives most patients much idea how to achieve them. Until now, no useful, practical guide existed to help people with diabetes get a handle on their own health
So Dr. Richard Jackson, Director of Outreach at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, and I have paired up to create just that â the first-ever, hands-on DIY guide to avoiding the long-term damage that diabetes can cause.
In very plain (and hopefully somewhat amusing) language, our new book teaches readers to understand, track, and prioritize their own 5 most critical health factors — A1c, blood pressure, lipids (HDL, LDL, triglycerides), microalbumin, and yearly eye exam. If any values are out of range, we offer detailed strategies and doable action plans for improving them.
These 5 simple medical tests are currently the best and only measures indicating each personâs own individual diabetes health risks. Yet despite being widely accessible and easy to administer (and covered by nearly every health plan), fewer than 42% of adults with diabetes have either had these tests, or understand what the results mean, according to an April 2006 report by USA Today.
We think this book, called Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes, can be powerful for millions of Americans whose lives are touched by diabetes. It gives them the ability to more precisely and successfully manage their health with diabetes, and can thus help chip away at this nationwide epidemic.
Weâre pleased to report that early reviews from physicians, patients, and diabetes educators support the DIY approach as a turning point in diabetes care.