Getting Into the Heart of the Matter: 5 Ways to Optimize Diabetes Care
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Getting Into the Heart of the Matter: 5 Ways to Optimize Diabetes Care

Getting Into the Heart of the Matter: 5 Ways to Optimize Diabetes Care

Special Features | January 17, 2022
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Did you know that diabetes and heart disease are both interrelated? In this article, we look at the whys, hows, and share tips to keep safe.

While the pandemic still takes the country by storm and alert levels are raised all over, it can be much harder to get proper treatment for other diseases. For one thing, there’s the risk of catching one of the many COVID-19 strains the moment you step out of the house. Plus, our healthcare workers and frontliners are busier than evertaking care of high-risk COVID-19 patients—while hospitals keep getting filled.

With that being said, it can be hard for diabetics to get the help they need. And given the lack of mobility and limited face-to-face interactions with the right doctors for this long-term disease, complications may arise—like heart disease, for example.

Photo from Unsplash

Diabetes and Heart Disease, Explained

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), diabetes and heart disease are part of the leading causes of mortality in the Philippines. In fact, experts add that people with diabetes—particularly those with Type 2 diabetes—have a higher chance of developing heart disease. Plus, a person with Type 2 diabetes is 2 to 4 times more likely to succumb to heart disease.

“Generally, the risk of death from heart disease and stroke are more than double for patients with diabetes. Without the proper care, management, and medical supervision, Filipinos living with diabetes are now in their most vulnerable state from heart disease especially during the pandemic,” Dr. Sison, a practicing cardiologist, explains.

And from another perspective, diabetes can also be a prime risk factor for heart diseases like stroke, coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease (PVD). All the more why we should take better care of ourselves.

Photo from Unsplash

5 Ways to Optimize Diabetes Care

But what’s the solution for all this? Awareness and accessible care. “Empirical studies clearly show the relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which is why it is important to highlight the importance of accessible diabetes care and choice of pharmacologic therapies proven to lower risk of cardiovascular complications and deaths within the diabetes community in the country,” Dr. Sison emphasizes.

Thus, the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) announced that the theme for World Diabetes Day 2021 to 2023 is “Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, When?” And with it comes the objective of working together with the global diabetes community to help more patients with diabetes get the care they deserve and spread awareness.

Given the restrictions to face-to-face hospital care—brought about by the pandemic—here’s how you can properly care for yourself, your diabetic family or loved ones, or even those who are at risk of becoming diabetic themselves (due to genetics):

1. Healthy Diet and Portion Control

Healthy eating is essential for healthy living. Likewise, it allows you to keep your blood sugar under control. But beyond avoiding sweets and sugary food, it also includes knowing the proper amount of food to consume.

This includes counting carbohydrates like rice, which often have a big impact on your blood sugar levels, ensuring that you have a well-balanced mix of starch, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and fats, and portioning out what you eat. You can use a measuring scale for better results.

2. Proper Exercise

Maintaining an active lifestyle is just as important in your diabetes management plan. You see, when you exercise, your muscles use glucose for energy, which in turn, can help your body use insulin more effectively. While the more strenuous workouts can prolong the effects of lowering your blood sugar, even light activities can help improve the way your body uses your blood sugar.

Just remember to talk to your doctor about an exercise plan and stay hydrated while you’re at it. And be careful of sudden drops in your blood sugar, which can manifest in lightheadedness, hunger, and exhaustion, to name a few.

3. Regular Glucose Monitoring

Glucose monitoring is crucial in keeping your blood sugar levels in check. From monitoring the sudden drops and spikes—caused by the food or medication you take in, as well as other factors like exercise—to understanding what works and doesn’t for your body, this step is ingrained in every diabetics’ daily routine.

While the more familiar method includes Blood Glucose Monitoring (BGM), which includes pricking your finger and scanning your blood sample with a glucometer, technology has evolved to include painless and more accurate devices. Through Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), real-time glucose levels can be read within a 24-hour period—that is, based on interstitial fluid instead of your blood.

4. Well-stocked Medication and Supplies

While proper diet and exercise can help manage diabetes, sometimes, they aren’t enough. That’s when insulin and other diabetes medications come in. Designed to help lower your blood sugar levels, the efficacy of these medications depends on the dosage and the effect each one has on your body. For this, it is important to be in regular communication with your doctor.

But given the limitations of going out due to the pandemic, it is important to keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet. Likewise, it is important to store your insulin and medications properly, especially since improper storage and expiration can cause them to not be effective. Do take note as well that insulin is especially sensitive to extreme changes in temperature, so keep them well.

5. Awareness and Access to Proper Education

Managing diabetes can be tricky, but it can be done. And when in doubt, keeping constant communication with your doctor is important. Thanks to the convenience of technology, telecommunications, and at-home services are now possible for emergencies or even for regular check-ups.

Moreover, many diabetes support groups and communities have taken the chance to educate others through their platforms. Heeding the call of the International Diabetes Federation, ZP Therapeutics, for example, promises that it will continue to launch educational discussions and academic opportunities that will help both first-timers and regulars. That way, they can raise awareness about diabetes and how to prevent them—the safe way.

“We believe that raising awareness about the disease and the ways we can manage its complications is the first step in making diabetes care more accessible. Specifically, we advocate for primary CV prevention, and will continue to work towards ramping up our education efforts on this issue to help provide patient-centered diabetes care in the country,” shares Medical Director of ZP Therapeutics, Dr. Philip Nakpil.  

“[By] working with key players in the country’s healthcare ecosystem, we envision helping more Filipinos living with diabetes [to] take a more proactive approach in managing their condition,” he adds.

Photos from WorldDiabetesDay.org

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ZP Therapeutics, a division of Zuellig Pharma, is the commercialization partner of choice for the healthcare industry, with offices in 13 countries across Asia and over 2,500 sales and marketing representative associates. To learn more, please visit www.zuelligpharma.com.

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