JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
A class offered by Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph's 359th Medical Group focuses on a disease that is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Diabetes Update, which is held at the JBSA-Randolph Health and Wellness Center, provides diabetics and their family members with valuable information about diabetes and how they can better manage the disease.
"In this class, we review the different types of diabetes and go over the standards of care for people who have diabetes," Jennifer Wetzel, 359th MDG health management registered nurse, said. "An important lesson is that diabetics have to be their own advocate. They should know what to expect at each diabetes visit and know what their treatment goals are."
Diabetes, a group of diseases marked by high levels of glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action or both, affects nearly 26 million Americans, or more than 8 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease impacts nearly 1,200 of the more than 24,000 enrollees at the JBSA-Randolph Medical Clinic.
Wetzel, who called the class a refresher course "that does not replace formal education," said attendees learn about the standards of care, which include foot, weight, body mass index and blood pressure checks, and a blood glucose review at every office visit; a hemoglobin A1c test and dental exam every six months; and a dilated eye exam, cholesterol check, foot exam and influenza vaccine every year.
Foot exams are important because foot ulcers and amputations are a major cause of morbidity, disability and emotional and physical costs for people with diabetes. The A1c test - which measures what percentage of a person's hemoglobin is coated with sugar - diagnoses Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and gauges how well people are managing their disease.
Wetzel said weight is one of the modifiable factors for diabetes.
"A weight loss of just 5 percent can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control," she said.
The class also covers controlling the "ABCs," Wetzel said. These are the goals for A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol levels that can be achieved through diet, exercise and medications.
Class attendees learn about pre-diabetes, a condition affecting an estimated 79 million Americans in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for diabetes.
"The good news is that, with some exercise and reduction of body weight, not everyone with pre-diabetes will progress to diabetes," Wetzel said. "However, diabetes is not reversible. Once diagnosed, you will always have it. People can manage it, but it never goes away."
Wetzel, who teaches the class, said she is hopeful it will be offered on a quarterly basis because of the importance of diabetes education and reminding diabetics they need to be proactive in dealing with their disease.
"We work with Randolph patients to make sure they receive the appropriate screenings and treatment," she said. "We want them to know what their standards of treatment and treatment goals are, and we want them to prevent complications and improve the quality of their everyday life."
For more information, call Wetzel at 652-6934.