Blood Sugar & Heart Health

Dr. Valeriu Neagu, MD

The professionals at NCH work together with their patients to help them take control of their diabetes or prediabetes. It is important for the patient to become an active, participating partner in the endeavor and commit to getting and staying healthy.

Studies have found that 40 percent of American adults between ages 40 and 74 have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Many of these adults are not aware that they have prediabetes, as it typically has no visible symptoms, with the only indicator being elevated blood sugar levels.

“As prediabetes progresses to type 2 diabetes, you might notice increased thirst and hunger, changes in urination patterns, or sudden, abrupt weight loss,” said Dr. Valeriu Neagu,MD, NCH endocrinologist.

In addition to the serious, even life-threatening health consequences that diabetes presents, diabetes is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, explained Dr. Neagu, which increases the patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of cardiac issues could include shortness of breath, chest pain and leg swelling.

“The good news is we have new medications available to treat diabetic conditions,” he said, “including injectables for the endocrine system and tablets for the kidneys.”

Dr. Neagu said that while he has the tools to get the patient’s blood sugar levels under control, “70 to 80 percent of the benefit comes from changes in diet and lifestyle.”

Dietitian Audrey McKernan,
R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.

That is where Audrey McKernan, RD, LD/N,CDE, (Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, and Certified Diabetes Educator) comes in. Also, at the Briggs Health Pavilion, McKernan specializes in helping patients move toward a sustainable diet and lifestyle.

“There are simple, practical dietary changes you can adopt that make a world of difference,” said McKernan. “We emphasize the Mediterranean diet, helping people consume mono-unsaturated fats, and working to limit saturated and transfats. There is a big emphasis on plant-based foods.

“With the pandemic, there’s a lot of stress – many people have gained weight. But a 10 percent weight loss makes a big difference. People who follow our program are seeing results.”

Currently, diabetes and prediabetes are at epidemic levels among the United States population. If you have been told that you or someone you care for is at risk for diabetes or prediabetes, call the professionals at NCH Healthcare System. They are here to help with expert medical advice and to work with you to promote a healthy lifestyle and diet.

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