Healthy Lifestyle Dietary Changes Can Help Prevent Diabetes / Public News Service

Healthy Lifestyle Dietary Changes Can Help Prevent Diabetes / Public News Service

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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and one expert believes Arkansans can reverse prediabetes, and prevent the onset of Type Two diabetes.

Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said it takes a self-care plan, including a healthy lifestyle and dietary changes.

Rodgers explained diabetes is the condition of a person’s blood glucose level being too high, and it is on the rise in Arkansas. He pointed out the disease affects about 37 million Americans, roughly 11% of the US population.

“The State of Arkansas, the prevalence is higher, it’s about 12.4%,” Rodgers noted. “Arkansas is the fifth-highest in terms of the ranking in the US of states in terms of the prevalence of diabetes. What seems to be driving this high number, both in Arkansas and other states, is the prevalence of obesity.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300,000 Arkansans have been diagnosed with diabetes. Rodgers emphasized if left untreated, the condition becomes more serious over time, causing such health problems as heart disease, nerve damage, vision problems and kidney disease .

In prediabetes, a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but have not spiked high enough to be diagnosed as Type Two diabetes. Rodgers stressed the risk factors are the same, including obesity and a family history of diabetes. He noted a self- care plan is mostly common sense, and should include regular doctor visits.

“Diet to try to reduce your weight by 5% to 7% can greatly reduce your risk of going from prediabetes, to diabetes,” Rodgers advised. “And the exercise, for example, is walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week . And decreasing the amount of calories and eating low-fat and low-salt foods.”

He recommended setting goals to manage what he calls the “ABCs of Diabetes.” ‘A’ stands for A1C, the test to measure your blood sugar. The number to aim for is below 7%. ‘B’ is for blood pressure, which should be around 140/90 or less, and ‘C’ is a reminder to maintain normal cholesterol levels.

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October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and the Tennessee Department of Health has received a $5 million federal grant to fund community and clinical programs, which will help more people in the state have healthy, successful pregnancies.

Between 2017 and 2020, the state said pregnancy-related problems took the lives of 113 Tennesseans, and nine in 10 of the causes of death are preventable.

Dr. Tobi Adeyeye Amosun, assistant commissioner of family health and wellness for the Tennessee Department of Health, said the grant will fund initiatives for the next five years to help improve maternal health, pregnancy and birth.

“To continue to expand membership in our Maternal Health Task Force, to help us create that strategic plan, improving our data collection and analysis; creating materials to educate families,” Amosun outlined. “We’re going to be using people who have lived experience to create some of those materials about the early warning signs of pregnancy emergencies.”

The department will also collaborate with local community agencies on projects to address maternal health needs in the state. Tennessee is ranked 41st among states for maternal mortality by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most recent findings in the Tennessee Maternal Mortality report show major health disparities for people of color who are pregnant.

Amosun acknowledged the findings are disappointing, and improving them will be a renewed focus.

“The level of disparities across the state is really quite striking in the geographic sense, and also between certain demographics,” Amosun pointed out. “For example, Black women are three times more likely to die in Tennessee, in that perinatal period, compared to to everybody else.”

She added the report also shows substance use disorders and mental health are contributing factors to some pregnancy-related deaths in Tennessee.

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Today marks the 25th anniversary of Oregon’s first-in-the-nation law allowing medical aid-in-dying. The 1994 “Death with Dignity” law permits mentally capable people with less than 6 months to live to get a prescription for a medication, approved by two doctors, which they can then choose to take in order to end their suffering. Barbara Coombs Lee, former president of the group Compassion & Choices, co-authored the law. She said her work faced a long fight.

“It was under constant assault for 12 years at the state and federal level,” Coombs Lee said. “I used to call this bill the little engine that could. It wasn’t really finally resolved until 2006 when the last challenge was dismissed by the US Supreme Court.”

Attorney James Bopp Jr., with the National Right to Life organization, led the fight against Oregon’s law. He argued, unsuccessfully, that pain control made the law unnecessary and that it would prevent depressed terminally ill adults from making an informed decision.

In the past 25 years, only about 5,000 terminally-ill Americans have used a medical aid-in-dying prescription. The state of Oregon shortened the waiting period and waived the state residency requirement.

Today, 9 states and Washington DC permit medical aid-in-dying. Current president and CEO of Compassion & Choices Kim Callinan notes, however, that 4 out of 5 Americans live in a state where medical aid-in-dying is not authorized.

“Medical aid-in-dying brings about a profound amount of peace of mind, not just for the dying person, but also for everybody within a state who might potentially want the option of medical aid-in-dying,” Callinan said.

Currently, about a dozen states are considering or will soon consider medical aid-in-dying legislation. Governor Kate Brown has declared today “End of Life Options Day” in Oregon.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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More than half of Americans said they are worried about getting surprise medical bills they cannot afford, and consumer advocates said one way to avoid them is to improve your health literacy. The task can feel daunting for many people overwhelmed by confusing insurance terminology, but Dr Lauren Wilson, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Montana, said knowledge is power when it comes to healthcare.

She has witnessed many families in emergency rooms forced to balance their medical needs with their checkbooks.

“And sometimes, in those moments is not the time when you can really address what might be an inadequate insurance plan, which is why it’s important to put the time in when you select your plan and make sure that it’s something that will work for you .” Wilson said.

60% percent of Americans said they have avoided or delayed medical care because of potential out-of-pocket costs, but Wilson said learning the ins and outs of individual plans can ensure that all families get the care they need. Open enrollment for health insurance plans through the federal marketplace begins November 1.

The health advocacy group Consumers for Quality Care is urging people looking for new coverage, or to change their existing insurance plan, to do their homework. Board member Mary Smith advises not to be lured only by low prices. She said the insurance plans with the The lowest premiums often include high deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays.

“There’s also sometimes short-term, limited-duration insurance plans,” Smith said. “They often exclude coverage on pre-existing conditions – including conditions an individual did not know they had, or were not aware required medical intervention.”

Smith said people with prescriptions for an ongoing medical condition should also avoid what are known as co-pay accumulator programs, which can prevent using a drug manufacturer’s coupons as part of a patient’s maximum out-of-pocket costs. On ‘healthcare.gov’ or ‘CoverMT.org,’ you can also find out if you qualify for a federal subsidy to help with monthly premium costs. Congress renewed funding for the subsidies through 2025.

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