WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- On this World Diabetes Day, Novant Health continues the fight to increase diabetes awareness and to educate on small, but powerful, steps people can take to prevent the disease.
Since late 2010, Novant Health has tested more than 150,000 hospital patients across its four-state footprint for elevated hemoglobin A1C levels as part of an effort to find people who were unaware they have diabetes. Since then, Novant Health has diagnosed nearly 6,000 people with the disease and today, the organization announces it has added the emerging epidemic of prediabetes to its education and outreach efforts.
"Too often, prediabetes is dismissed or not taken seriously," said Jim Lederer, MD, vice president of clinical improvement for Novant Health. "Early diagnosis and intervention are critical to reduce the chances of developing diabetes and the inevitable complications that come with the disease. Working with your physician to identify simple lifestyle changes can prove to be lifesaving down the road."
While about 30 million people have diabetes in the United States, an estimated 79 million people have prediabetes – blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C levels that are higher than normal (A1C of 5.7% - 6.4%), but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes (A1C > 6.5%). Hemoglobin A1C tests—the gold standard in diagnosing diabetes and prediabetes—measure the average blood glucose level for the past two to three months.
Prediabetes has no clear symptoms, but many people with sustained elevated blood glucose levels will go on to develop type 2 diabetes if lifestyle changes are not made—and small steps can drastically reduce the chances. Novant Health continues to aggressively help its communities march toward wellness by expanding its efforts to include prediabetes, a fast-growing segment of patients.
"This is preventative medicine at its best," said Stephen Wallenhaupt, MD, chief medical officer for Novant Health. "Diabetes is a devastating disease, but it can be successfully managed with early diagnosis and a thorough treatment plan. A prediabetes diagnosis no longer means an inevitable diabetes diagnosis. We are working with our communities to reverse this trend."
Undiagnosed and uncontrolled, diabetes can affect every major organ, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. According to the American Diabetes Association, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of similar age without diabetes. The organization also notes that even modest weight loss (five to seven percent of body weight) and regular physical activity can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent in people with prediabetes. Getting just 30 minutes of physical activity every day can be a very effective step toward this goal.
For more information on diabetes and to take a risk assessment, visit www.novanthealth.org/diabetes.
About Novant Health
Novant Health is a four-state integrated network of physician practices, outpatient centers and hospitals that deliver a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to our communities. The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,100 physicians and 24,000 employees who make healthcare remarkable at more than 450 locations including 14 medical centers, three hospitals, and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, Novant Health is committed to making healthcare remarkable for our patients and our communities serving over four million patients annually. In 2012, Novant Health provided more than $545 million in community benefit including charity care and services. Novant Health is one of the top 25 integrated health systems in the United States and was named a top 50 Best Places for Diverse & Women Managers to Work by Diversity MBA Magazine.
For more information, please visit our website at NovantHealth.org. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Note to editors: In September 2010, Novant Health began a vigilant early diagnosis and education program to identify hospital patients with previously undiagnosed diabetes. The health system administered hemoglobin A1C tests of nearly every patient admitted to a Novant Health hospital for any reason (except in maternity, where gestational diabetes risk is already closely monitored). For those with elevated levels – a sign of diabetes – hospital diabetes educators alerted the patient and their physician and suggested diet, exercise and other steps that help combat the disease and lower the risk of associated complications.
SOURCE Novant Health