Philadelphia — In support of American Diabetes Month in November, the American College of Physicians (ACP) is reminding the public about the dangers of diabetes—a leading cause of death in the United States—and what can be done to prevent and treat the disease.
“Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause serious complications, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney failure, and nervous system damage,” said J. Fred Ralston Jr., MD, FACP, president, ACP.
Resources for Patients and Clinicians
For patients who have diabetes and the clinicians who treat them, the ACP Diabetes Portal provides tools, resources, and research supporting diabetes care. Information and links are updated regularly, providing patients and clinicians with the latest evidence-based guidance.
Patients can access practical tips and concrete examples of successful approaches to control diabetes, including information about diet and exercise; monitoring blood sugar; insulin and other medications; and complications caused by diabetes.
Clinicians can search the ACP Diabetes Portal for information under the headings of quality, practice issues, and clinical topics. Later this month, users will have access to more than 80 self-assessment study questions in an updated, online edition of the ACP Diabetes Care Guide, a resource intended to be used by multi-disciplinary teams providing care to patients with diabetes.
“The online, interactive self-assessment component will be particularly useful for physicians and clinical teams providing care to patients with diabetes,” said Dr. Ralston.
Risks, Symptoms, and Treatment for Diabetes
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes—the most common form of the disease—include being over age 45; having a family history of diabetes; being overweight; not exercising regularly; having had gestational diabetes; having high blood pressure or high cholesterol; and being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander.
“It is important to know the risk factors and warning signs of diabetes and what you can do to treat the disease if you have it,” Dr. Ralston said.
Diabetes symptoms may be mild or even nonexistent. Warning signs may include extreme thirst and/or hunger, fatigue, frequent need to urinate, unusual weight loss, blurred vision, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, frequent infections, and bruises that are slow to heal.
“Your physicians can prescribe a simple blood test to diagnose diabetes,” added Dr. Ralston.
People with diabetes can keep the disease under control by eating a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, and whole grains; exercising regularly; losing weight; checking blood sugar levels and writing them down to show their doctor; and taking medicines every day.
In a guidance statement, ACP advises physicians to set targets for the hemoglobin A1c values (a number that reflects the average blood sugar level over the past three months) of patients with type 2 diabetes. The organization recommends that the A1c target level should be based on individualized assessment of risk of complications from diabetes, other disease factors, life expectancy, and patient preferences. A hemoglobin A1c level of less than 7 percent is a reasonable goal for many but not all patients to prevent microvascular complications.
Related Online Resources:
- American College of Physicians Diabetes Portal
- Glycemic Control and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Optimal Hemoglobin A1c Targets. A Guidance Statement from the American College of Physicians
- Skill Videos from ACP Foundation for Patients who have Diabetes
- Diabetes HEALTH TiPS from ACP Foundation (PDF)
- Diabetes HEALTH TiPS from ACP Foundation (PDF / Spanish)
- Development and Validation of a Patient Self-assessment Score for Diabetes Risk, article published in Annals of Internal Medicine
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 130,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.