Hospital to hold Diabetes Health Fair

Prediabetes — Do you have it? How do you know? Find out at Greenwich Hospital’s Diabetes Health Fair on Monday, June 10 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the hospital’s Noble Conference Center.

Diabetes is said to be one of the most misunderstood medical conditions out there.

“It’s not just about sugar. It’s about your heart,” said Nancy Ryan, a registered dietitian, board-certified in advanced diabetes management at Greenwich Hospital.

According to statistics from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control, about 79 million adult Americans — one in every four over the age of 20 and one in every two over the age of 65 — are walking around with prediabetes. This means they have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Diabetes is the result of the body’s inability to properly use or make the hormone insulin, which is needed to convert sugar and starch from food into energy.

Complications occur when sugar accumulates in the blood instead of going into the cells. This is referred to as high blood sugar or a high glucose level, and it can trigger higher than normal cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to increased risk of heart attack, stroke and vascular disease in the legs.

Although prediabetes has no symptoms it is not benign, Dr. Ryan said. People with prediabetes have an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and neuropathy, which creates tingling sensations or numbing caused by changes in nerve function.

“If ignored, about half of all people with prediabetes will go on to develop diabetes that can lead to kidney failure, blindness and serious blood circulation problems,” Dr. Ryan said.

One factor that contributes to prediabetes is genetics; another is where you store your body fat. People with belly fat are at higher risk than those who store fat in their hips and thighs. Fat that surrounds the body’s vital organs presents a greater danger to good health and can cause insulin resistance, rising blood glucose levels, high blood pressure and abnormal blood fats such as high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides.

Prediabetes is often diagnosed through blood tests associated with a routine physical exam.

“It’s a wake-up call,” Dr. Ryan said. “The condition can often be reversed through diet and exercise. Changing direction can have a profound positive impact on your life. The key is to eat well, maintain a good weight, and move, move, move. It’s as simple as keeping a food diary. Write down everything you eat and drink, as well as your physical activity, which should add up to a minimum of 150 minutes every week,” she said.

Whether you have diabetes, prediabetes, or a loved one with one of these conditions, stop by the Diabetes Health Fair to keep abreast of the latest advances in diabetes management. Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to attend.

The event is free and walk-ins are welcome.

For more information, call 203-863-3929.

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