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Early Detection, Treatment of Diabetes Paying Off: March 4, 2012

Diagnosed in 1996, Pauline Miller keeps close watch on her blood sugar levels.

“It has progressed to being higher then what it should be but with the medicine and all it’s been controlled very good.”

The threat of serious complications was enough to catch her attention.

“Diabetes is a total body problem. Diabetics have more circulatory problems, die more often of cardiovascular complications like heart attacks and strokes, they have more kidney failure and they have more amputations,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

Now early detection and proper treatment is paying off; lowering some common complications. A 2012 CDC study showed diabetic amputations went down 65% between 1996 and 2008. Vision problems were also lower, dropping from 24% in 1997 to 17% in 2010.

There’s no cure for diabetes. Once you have it, you’ll have to manage it for the rest of your life. But people are learning that if they do it right they can enjoy a healthy life.

The health care provider really needs to sit down with the patient and say this is a check list of things that we really need to do to manage your diabetes well. These are the numbers you need for your blood sugar, your blood pressure, for your cholesterol. It really takes a lot of education,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Educators with Lee Health Solutions teach people how to change their lifestyles.

“If you’re able to lose weight through exercise, following a healthy meal plan, you may be able to reduce the amount of medication that you’re taking,” says Sharon Krispinsky, a certified diabetes education with Lee Memorial Health System.

Pauline has gone 16 years without a major complication.

“There’s times when I really go to town and then when I take my sugar count it shows. So I know I better start behaving myself.”

Keeping their numbers low, people with diabetes are also lowering their risk of complications.