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Diabetes Matters Education Series Hosts Panel of Experts

August 23, 2011

If you or someone you care about has diabetes, you know how important it is to keep the chronic disease under control. Diabetes can take a serious toll on the body, raising the risk for heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision loss, and other serious health issues.

“There is a lot to think about when it comes to controlling diabetes,” said Vida Reed, a certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. “It’s important to work with your health care team to prevent some of the serious complications associated with diabetes.”

She will participate in an upcoming panel discussion titled “Diabetes Viewpoint” that will include Dr. Ash Jain, a cardiologist, and Dr. Prasad Katta, an endocrinologist, members of the Washington Hospital medical staff, and Anna Mazzei, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital.

The panel discussion is part of the hospital’s free monthly Diabetes Matters education series. It will be held on Thursday, September 1, from 7 to 8 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West), in Fremont. You can register online at www.whhs.com or call (510) 745-6556 for more information.

“Each panelist will talk about diabetes management from the viewpoint of their specific area of expertise,” Reed said. “This is a great opportunity for people with diabetes to get their questions answered.”

Dr. Katta will talk about the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and how to lower your risk for diabetes. Dr. Jain will talk about lowering the risk for heart disease and stroke, which strike people with diabetes twice as often as those without the chronic disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. In fact, two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Diabetes is a progressive disease that affects the blood vessels in the body. Damage to the small blood vessels causes weakening of the heart muscle that can result in heart failure while damage to the large vessels can cause heart attacks.

People with diabetes need to keep risk factors under control, including blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important because obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes, can also contribute to heart disease. Some of these risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

Eating Right

Mazzei will offer tips for eating a healthy diet, which can help to reduce some of the risk for serious complications associated with diabetes, including heart disease and stroke.

“Diet can have a significant impact on blood glucose levels as well as other risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and obesity,” Reed said. “A diet that is low in salt and fat and high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can help to reduce your risks.”

Processed foods and snack foods like chips and crackers tend to be high in salt and saturated fat, which increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, she said. These types of foods also make it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Dairy products and red meat can also be high in saturated fat. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are packed with the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

“Controlling portion sizes is also important for controlling blood glucose levels and managing your weight,” Reed said.

She will discuss the role of the diabetes educator in helping people with diabetes manage the chronic disease. Understanding how to use medications, meal planning, and other aspects of controlling the disease can be complicated and sometimes overwhelming, particularly for people who are newly diagnosed, according to Reed.

“Everyone is different, so their response to medications, food, exercise, and other factors that can affect blood glucose levels is different,” she said. “We help people find ways to manage the disease that work for them.”

Diabetes educators can also help people with diabetes figure out how to overcome some of the challenges of living with the disease so they can live a better quality life, she added.

“The panel discussion will give people with diabetes a comprehensive view of how to control their disease and an opportunity to ask questions,” Reed said. “It will cover all the elements of effective self-management.”

Those planning to attend can submit their questions in advance by calling (510) 745-6556.