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Diabetes Update 2014: What's New?

March 04, 2014

 Learn About the Latest Treatment Options for Diabetes at Upcoming Seminar

Diabetes is a frequent topic in the news, but it is not a new disease. In fact, diabetes has been around since ancient times. According to Diabetes Forecast Magazine, the earliest known written record of diabetes dates back to 1552 B.C., when an Egyptian physician cited frequent urination as a symptom of diabetes. Caused by the body's inability to produce insulin or to use insulin effectively, diabetes was an almost certain death sentence until 1922 - when the first human diabetes patient was treated with insulin.

Since then, scientists have made great advances in treating diabetes. Most recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new class of medications for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.

"SGLT2 inhibitors work primarily by blocking re-absorption of glucose in the kidneys, which helps the body increase its ability to eliminate more excess glucose through the urine,"explains Dr. Archana Bindra, an endocrinologist and Co-Director of Diabetes Services at Washington Hospital. "SGLT2 inhibitors are an additional alternative for patients whose diabetes is not well controlled by diet, exercise and current drug therapy."

To help people in the community learn more about the latest news in diabetes treatments Ð as well as basic information about diabetes prevention and treatment - Dr. Bindra will be speaking at a free "Diabetes Matters" education program on Thursday, March 6. The program will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. A diabetes support group discussion will follow Dr. BindraÕs talk from 8 to 9 p.m.

"The increase in the number of people with diabetes is continuing at a steady pace," she notes. "It's important for people to monitor their blood sugar levels and pay attention when it reaches the 'pre-diabetes' level between 100 to 125 mg/dL. Actively managing your blood sugar levels is essential to avoid the potentially serious complications of diabetes such as kidney failure, nerve damage that may lead to foot or leg amputation, or blindness resulting from degeneration of the retina at the back of the eye.Ó

During the March 6 program, Dr. Bindra will discuss the importance of diet, exercise and smoking cessation in managing diabetes. She also will provide an overview of various medications used to treat diabetes.

"We are moving to a more comprehensive model of treating 'metabolic syndrome,' which is a cluster of conditions - such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, obesity, and elevated lipid levels Ð that increase the risk for diabetes, heart attack and stroke," Dr. Bindra says.

"There are new standards for blood pressure readings and cholesterol levels," she adds. "We also are encouraging people who are at risk for diabetes to have their physicians perform the A1C blood test, which measures the average blood sugar level over the past three months, giving us a better overview of long-term blood sugar control."

For people with diabetes who must use insulin to control their diabetes, Dr. Bindra will explain a new advance in insulin pump therapy.

"There is now a new glucose monitoring system that can be used in conjunction with insulin pumps," she says. "The system continuously monitors the patient's blood glucose level and sends that data to the pump to maintain the proper dose of insulin at all times."

While treatments for diabetes have continued to improve, Dr. Bindra stresses that an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

"We want people to be aware of their risk factors for diabetes Ð including their family history of the disease - and to be seen by their doctors sooner, rather than later," she says. "It's so important to catch diabetes before it progresses to serious complications. You really do not want to reach the advanced stages of diabetes."

Watch Diabetes Matters on InHealth, a Washington Hospital Channel

"Diabetes Matters" is a monthly program that provides science-based information to people interested in increasing their knowledge about diabetes. The classes, held the first Thursday of each month, are free. Diabetes patients who attend the program are encouraged to bring relatives or close friends to learn more about the disease and how to support the patients who are trying to manage their disease. Diabetes Matters also airs on InHelathMany lectures are videotaped and available in the hospital library, as well as on the Washington Hospital Web site. For more information about the many services offered through the Washington Hospital Outpatient Diabetes Center, visit www.whhs.com/diabetes.