Is early intervention the key to managing diabetes?
If you think you’ve ‘only got diabetes’ then you may need to think again.
That’s the message from one panel of American physicians including cardiologists, nephrologists, endocrinologists, and primary care doctors. Concerned about the link not only between obesity and diabetes but also between diabetes and a number of other conditions, they have drawn up a series of recommendations based on early intervention allied to an awareness of and focus on certain conditions which are often linked to diabetes.
These linked conditions, or co-morbidities, include fatty liver disease, high blood pressure - otherwise known as hypertension, kidney disease, blindness, and heart failure. The danger, says the panel, is that treatments geared solely towards diabetes could miss these other conditions until it is too late to prevent lasting damage.
In order to avoid this, they recommend early screening and diagnosis alongside the early implementation of lifestyle changes. For example, with obesity being a known risk factor for diabetes, the report suggests that those who are obese or overweight should be assessed not only for glucose tolerance but also for conditions including heart and kidney disease, sleep disturbance, and osteoarthritis. Early interventions such as a low-carbohydrate diet allied to an increase in exercise could then help to reduce the risk of developing any of these conditions.
Even in those who have already developed diabetes, the sooner that holistic interventions take place, the better the chance of managing or preventing further complications.
In this instance, the report recommends that both prediabetic and diabetic individuals should be screened for conditions including eye, kidney and heart damage. Here again, the primary treatments include weight management and exercise. Not only can these help to manage diabetes, but exercise, allied to a low sodium, high potassium diet, can also help to manage any tendency towards high blood pressure which for diabetics is recommended to be below 130/80.
In and of themselves, none of these recommendations are new, but this report stands out because of the emphasis on preventative measures which look to tackle a range of potential conditions rather than simply concentrating on one aspect of an individual’s health. It’s an approach which already has some traction in the UK. For example, the British Heart Foundation website carries an article from a Diabetes UK adviser which extolls the importance of diet and activity in preventing diabetes. 
That article comments that around 80% of Type 2 Diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented through lifestyle changes.
With those lifestyle changes also potentially staving off other conditions, the more that health professionals look to treat the person, not the condition, the better the potential outcome for a healthier life.
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