TORONTO, Ont. (April 1, 2016)—This year, World Health Day on April 7 will focus on diabetes and its global impact. In Canada, diabetes has reached epidemic proportions—with an estimated 11 million people living with diabetes or prediabetes. Another Canadian is diagnosed with diabetes every three minutes.
Diabetes increases a person’s risk for many serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure leading to dialysis, and blindness. Nevertheless, for many people it is possible to live a healthy, full life with diabetes.
“People with diabetes play a critical role in ensuring the best health outcomes with the disease. Working closely with their health-care team, they manage blood sugar levels, foot care, eye care, physical activity and healthy eating,” says Dr. Jan Hux, chief science officer at the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). “Self-management is the cornerstone of diabetes care and people affected by it need the knowledge and skills to properly manage diabetes.”
For Stacey Livitski, 40, from Thunder Bay, Ont., daily management of her diabetes is essential to her health. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven, Stacey missed many school days due to being hospitalized and recalls being bullied and seen as an outcast because of her diabetes. As an adult, she was in an abusive marriage, which led to poor management of her diabetes. From her experiences, she learned that she didn’t want her diabetes to hold her back and decided to use it as a driving force to live well.
“Self-management is so important as I live with diabetes 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Stacey. “It’s important to educate yourself and not wait for others to do things for you. Take charge, do your research and join online or in-person support groups; this isn’t a solo journey—there are many ready to join you on the way.”
According to the CDA’s Report on Diabetes: Driving Change, access to diabetes education is vital for learning more about nutrition, physical activity, blood sugar monitoring, medication and ways to make even little changes that can lead to success.
“World Health Day to me means hope for greater understanding and less negative social perceptions of diabetes,” adds Stacey.
Some tips to keep on top of your diabetes include: taking action to learn as much as possible and using diabetes programs and services when needed; setting your targets and goals to maintain optimal average (A1C) and daily blood sugar levels; performing self-checks for foot problems; and scheduling regular eye exams. For more information, visit diabetes.ca/takecharge.
The main types of diabetes are:
Type 1 – occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that controls the level of sugar in the blood. The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown and it is not preventable. It most commonly begins in childhood and occurs when a person’s immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. It is found in five to 10 per cent of Canadians with diabetes.
Type 2 – occurs when the pancreas either cannot effectively use or produce enough insulin. The causes of type 2 diabetes can be genetic, behavioural and/or environmental. It usually develops in adulthood, although more children and adolescents are being diagnosed. It is found in approximately 90 per cent of Canadians living with diabetes.
Prediabetes – occurs when an individual’s blood sugar levels are elevated, but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. About half of those with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes.
About the Canadian Diabetes Association The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) is the registered national charity that helps the 11 million Canadians with diabetes or prediabetes live healthy lives, and educates those at risk. In communities across Canada, the CDA:
- offers educational programs and support services;
- develops resources to health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
- advocates with those affected by diabetes to governments, schools and workplaces; and,
- funds research to improve treatments and find a cure.
For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).