“This research gives us a good picture of diabetes control in older adults and gets us thinking about what it means that older Americans are not meting clinical targets and how we should address this from a public health perspective,” study leader Elizabeth Selvin, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said in a school news release.
The study included almost 1,600 diabetes patients, aged 65 and older, in Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi and North Carolina. The researchers looked at whether the participants met American Diabetes Association Guidelines for three key measures of good diabetes control: blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The results showed that only one in three of the patients had diabetes controlled as defined by the ADA guidelines. Some experts consider the ADA guidelines too demanding for seniors. But even using less stringent measures, the researchers found that many of the patients did not have their diabetes under control.
The study appears in the July issues of the journal Diabetes Care.
One reason why seniors with diabetes may have more difficulty keeping their disease under control is that many of them have other health problems that may require more immediate attention from doctors, according to study co-author Chirstina Parrinello, who is also at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Failure to keep diabetes under control increases the risk of long-term health problems such as nerve damage, blindness and kidney disease, the researchers noted.
The problem is that many diabetics (and physicians) believe it is the job of the medication(s) to keep the disease under control. Just re-read the second to the last paragraph - “other health problems that may require more immediate attention from doctors.”
The medication does counteract some effects of a lifetime of bad eating habits, at least temporarily. But if the diet does not improve, the medications quickly become less and less effective.
It is the job of the patient to modify their diet, reduce the refined carbohydrates, reduce the caloric intake to take some of the load off the pancreas, liver, adrenals and thyroid. However, it is the doctor’s role to convince the patient that if they don’t change their lifestyle, the disease will ravage their bodies and cause all those “other health problems that may require more immediate attention from doctors.”
Even patients that are well within the parameters of the ADA guidelines for diabetes control continue to suffer tissue damage that leads to neuropathy, blindness and kidney disease. The fact that cardiovascular disease, a direct complication of diabetes, often kills them before these other complications become apparent is conveniently side-stepped in this article.
The Bottom Line:
Diabetes control is all about diet and exercise. Medication, when needed is an adjunct to lifestyle. Until we adopt this approach to this disease, the epidemic levels of diabetes in this nation will continue to rise.
Source: July 30, 2015 National Institutes of Health