World Health Day 2016: Beat diabetes
We hope you’ll join us in support of World Health Day on April 7, an annual celebration of health awareness sponsored since 1950 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
This year, the focus of World Health Day is diabetes awareness, so let’s start with a few need-to-know facts:
- Diabetes is an enormous and growing health challenge. About 1.5 million people died from diabetes complications in 2012, and the WHO estimates it will be the seventh leading cause of death globally by 2030. The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) predicts that about one in three Canadians will have diabetes by 2020.
- There are two primary kinds of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. Its onset is not related to weight, diet or exercise.
- Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin—the pancreas makes insulin, but it stops working as well to balance blood glucose. While many risk factors for type 2 diabetes are not within our control, such as our genetic heritage, access to fresh fruit and vegetables and socio-economic status, a healthy diet and regular physical activity play an important part in prevention. Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1, representing about 90% of total cases.
- With all types of diabetes, the result is high blood glucose (often referred to as blood sugar). Over time, too much glucose in the blood may lead to devastating complications that include nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and infection that may result in lower limb amputation.
So what can you do to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes?
- Know the risk factors. If your genetic heritage or family history puts you at higher risk, it is still often possible to prevent or delay diabetes by many years.
- Take the CDA’s free two-minute online assessment. If you find you are at risk, see your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Eat the recommended number of daily servings of fruit, vegetables, and healthy grains and proteins.
- Include the recommended amount of physical activity in your weekly routine.
Need help assessing your risk?
Talk to your pharmacist.
Pharmacists are widely known as the prescription drug experts, and they’re inarguably an invaluable resource when it comes to avoiding harmful drug interactions, minimizing and managing drug side effects, and optimizing the benefits of treatment by taking the right drug the right way.
But the role of the pharmacist has been expanding rapidly in Canada. Today, many pharmacists have received additional training and certification in diabetes management, and as the most accessible member of your health care team, are available to provide help when you need it.
If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes (high blood glucose not yet in the diabetes range), a diagnosis is crucial. Many people with pre-diabetes can avoid developing the disease through lifestyle changes, and diabetes is treatable, making it possible to prevent or delay complications.
Of course, managing your blood glucose and making healthy lifestyle changes can be a daunting challenge, but there is lots of support available. Your pharmacist can help you understand your options and refer you to a wide range of services in your community.