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Half of El Dorado County Adults on Path to Diabetes

PLACERVILLE, CA (March 25, 2016) -- A study released this month estimates that 50 percent of El Dorado County adults – including one out of every three young people ages 18-39 – have undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes, a precursor to life-threatening type 2 diabetes. An additional 6 percent of the county’s population already have been diagnosed with the disease.

El Dorado County’s figures are even more alarming than the overall outlook for California: It’s estimated that 46 percent of the state’s adults – more than 13 million people – have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes, according to The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research study.

These numbers concern local health care providers, who point out that type 2 diabetes can lead to several life-threatening ailments.

“Most people don’t know that they are prediabetic, and aren’t aware of the risks to their health such as heart attack, stroke, blindness and amputation that often come with type 2 diabetes,” says Swetha Mudunuri, MD., Marshall Family and Internal Medicine.

“Type 2 diabetes is preventable, Mudunuri says. “Lifestyle changes – like losing weight, changing your diet and exercising – can lower your blood glucose levels and even reverse prediabetes,” she says. “Diagnosis is key. It just takes a simple blood test to discover if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.”

“Making healthy lifestyle changes can be challenging,” says Lisa Hartley, RN, a Certified Diabetes Educator and Coordinator of Marshall’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center in Cameron Park. “It's about taking small steps in the right direction. It takes time, planning, understanding and support to be successful,” she says, explaining the center’s team approach in assisting patients in setting realistic and achievable goals to control diabetes.

One such patient, a 63-year-old man from Rescue, was able to self-manage his diabetes by watching his diet and making a conscious decision to move more each day. In seven months, he dropped nine pounds and lowered his blood glucose levels to a healthy range.

“This patient’s goal was to avoid the need for medication,” explains AJ Kenworthy, RN, a Certified Diabetes Educator and member of the Diabetes and Nutrition Education team. “Everyone has to find their personal motivators to get control of diabetes.”

Kenworthy points out that while many people require medication to control diabetes, a healthy diet and regular exercise will allow them to use less medication and reduces their risk for complications.

Diabetes educators like Kenworthy and Hartley help patients with their specialized knowledge in diabetes, including self-management tools like diet and exercise, medication and monitoring of blood glucose. They also serve as coaches who help with goal setting, behavior change and motivation.

Medical specialists at Marshall’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center are available for individual diabetes management and they offer classes on healthy living with diabetes. The program is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and services are most often covered with a physician’s referral.

Hartley says the UCLA study points to the importance of reversing a dangerous health trend. “The impact of diabetes is dramatic in terms of both human suffering and socioeconomic costs,” she says, explaining that people with prediabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and the risks increase as they develop type 2 diabetes.

Hartley is especially concerned about the incidence of prediabetes in the 18-39 age group. “We know that if this age group doesn’t take steps to improve their physical activity, diet and weight, there is a 70 percent chance they will develop diabetes in their lifetime. We need to reverse this.

“As health care providers, we want people to achieve a better quality of life, and have healthier communities overall,” Hartley says.

Online tools To see if you are at risk for diabetes, take the American Diabetes Association test:

Information about Marshall’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center:

Details on the UCLA study: