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Symposium Stresses Early Treatment Of Diabetes



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Symposium Stresses Early Treatment Of Diabetes

DANBURY — Diabetes is such a serious and complicated disease that patients should be treated as if they have had a heart attack. That is because insulin resistance, which often results from obesity, puts a person at direct risk of cardiovascular problems.

That is the advice of Stanley Saperstein, MD, a physician in the Danbury Hospital Department of Medicine/Nephrology, at a recent symposium at Danbury Hospital, “Type II Diabetes Dialogue —When Does it Begin? Is it Preventable?” The symposium was sponsored in conjunction with the Stanley Saperstein, MD, and Eleanor L. Saperstein Diabetes Mellitus Complications Educational Endowment.

The program provided the greater Danbury community with an opportunity to hear a panel of doctors share new information on prevention and treatment of diabetes, and the complications the disease can cause. The panel included Robert Ruxin, MD, an internist; Robert Savino, MD, chief of endocrinology; Ronald Raymond, MD, a cardiologist; and Howard Garfinkel, MD, chief of nephrology. The program was timely, since diabetes is a growing problem, affecting six percent of the population.

“It’s not just about sugar,” said Dr Savino, “it’s very complicated.”

One of the worst complications about diabetes is that it attacks the inside of the blood vessels, putting a patient at risk for a cardiovascular event, such as heart attack, or heart disease, according to the doctors.

“Type II diabetes — adult onset diabetes — is a snake in the grass,” said Dr Saperstein. “It sneaks up and catches us unaware.” But the snake pit can be avoided, he said, by recognizing the warning signs that creep up of the years, according to Dr Saperstein. Some people have a family history or medical profile that predisposes them to diabetes, while others get the disease as a result of obesity. Insulin resistance increases if you gain weight, he said.

“As long as the pancreas can go into overdrive and compensate for insulin, it can keep blood sugar down.” But after years of overdrive due to obesity, some people’s pancreases will just give out, and they will develop diabetes.

Obesity, which triggers insulin resistance, is defined by a waistline of 35 inches for female and 40 inches for a man.

Early intervention of diabetes is key in keeping people healthy, according to the doctors. Strides can be made in the prediabetic stages, during what is called the metabolic syndrome, when changes are occurring in the body, but are not yet noticeable.

Early diagnosis is key, say the doctors, because 50 percent of Type II patients will have a cardiovascular event before the diagnosis of diabetes is ever made. Insulin resistance over the years changes the normal composition of the blood and disturbs the lining of the arteries, causing plaque to build up and artery walls to become inflamed.

“Type II diabetes is a cardiovascular equivalent,” said Dr Saperstein, “which means you should be treated as if you’ve had a heart attack.”

In addition to cardiovascular disease, diabetes can also put patients at risk of kidney problems, nerve problems, eye diseases, and dental complications, among other things.

“The name of the game is prevention, prevention, prevention, said Dr Savino, who discussed the management of diabetes. “The power of prevention,” he said, “is what you can do to manage diabetes and stay healthy. It’s a chronic illness that requires chronic medical care, patient self-management, and education. If you keep blood sugars down, you reduce the risk of eye, nerve, and kidney diseases, among other things.”

Dr Garfinkel agreed. “Early detection of prediabetic state is very important.”

For more information regarding diabetes, visit the Danbury Hospital website at www.danburyhospital.org, or see a physician. For a physician referral, call the Danbury Hospital physician referral service at 797-7322.

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