When compared to individuals maintaining a healthy weight, overweight people are three times more likely to develop diabetes. In obese individuals, the risk of developing the disease is seven times higher. While being overweight doesn’t guarantee the development of diabetes, preventative measures such as early blood screenings, regular exercise and healthy diet are highly recommended for all Americans.
However, for those already suffering from the effects of diabetes, there are high-risk complications, such as heart disease and chronic wounds, that must be carefully monitored. Heart disease-related deaths are two to four times more likely in people with diabetes. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, two out of three people suffering from diabetes will die from heart disease or stroke.
To decrease the risk of developing heart disease as a result of diabetes, patients should test their blood sugar levels daily to ensure that it is in a safe range. Medications prescribed by a physician to treat blood sugar abnormalities should be taken as directed. Other measures such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, following a doctor-approved diet and limiting alcohol consumption can all lower the risk of developing heart disease.
Chronic wounds are another major concern when it comes to diabetes. Chronic wounds are defined as wounds that have not begun to heal within two weeks, or one that is not fully healed within four to six weeks. Those suffering from diabetes are at high risk of developing wounds related to the disease because of factors such as poor circulation, renal disease and obesity.
When a wound develops, it is important to seek treatment immediately to lower the chances of infection. If left untreated, some wounds could require invasive treatments such as amputation of the effected areas. Some wounds are unable to heal because of their size and the body’s inability to produce new tissues. The inability of the body to send enough blood and nutrients to the wound also can delay healing. Specialized approaches to wound care, such as nutritional counseling, tissue grafting, surgical debridement, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and limb offloading therapy, have been shown to facilitate healing and reduce the need to undergo invasive procedures.
It is important that specialized treatments, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, are administered under the supervision of a physician. At Northern Nevada Medical Center’s Wound Care Center, physicians with the needed expertise are successfully treating diabetes-related wounds every day.
Studies have shown an 88 percent success rate in healing of chronic wounds by utilizing advanced, physician-supervised therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen. This method of treatment oxygenates the blood to several times its normal level by having the patient breath in pure, pressurized oxygen while lying in a pressurized cylinder. When this oxygenated blood reaches the wound it helps to combat infection and swelling while promoting the growth of new blood vessels. Treatments are administered over a period of several weeks and range from 90 to 120 minute increments. However, the number of treatments varies depending on the severity of the wound.
Northern Nevada Medical Center is passionate about educating patients and their families about the risks and effects of diabetes. For more information on the topic of diabetes visit http://healthinfo.northernnvmed.com/Conditions/Diabetes.
The public is also welcome to join us from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday for a presentation on how to safely and effectively manage diabetes. The lecture will be presented on the NNMC campus, Medical Office Building 203. Dinner will be served and registration is free. Call 356-NNMC (6662) to register.
The Wound Care Center at Northern Nevada Medical Center is located at the Vista Medical Terrace at 2345 E. Prater Way. For more information, call 352-5353.
Todd Inman, MD, is the Medical Director for the Wound Care Center at Northern Nevada Medical Center. Dr. Inman practices in family medicine at the Northern Nevada Medical Group. Dr. Inman earned his medical degree and completed his residency from the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno.