November is National Diabetes Month; a time set aside to educate and bring attention to diabetes. The rate of adults diagnosed with diabetes is significantly greater in the Appalachian region than in any other area and is the most common disease in Kentucky. Diabetes, specifically type 2, has greatly affected the health of patients in the region. From the increased probability of serious health problems to increased medical bills, diabetes has negatively impacted thousands of lives.

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) has implemented several awareness programs to reduce cases of diabetes and to educate and support its current diabetic patient population. Dr. Rishi Raj, MD, a skilled endocrinologist, is a specialist at PMC dedicated to diabetes education and treatment. PMC also features a Diabetes Education department led by Mavis Lowe, MSN, APRN, BC-ADM, CDCES, a nurse practitioner and Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist. Lowe works alongside two full-time diabetes education coordinators to develop treatment plans for diabetic patients. In addition, PMC primary care clinics have knowledgeable providers who help both diabetic and prediabetic patients track diabetes symptoms and develop plans for a healthy lifestyle.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services estimates that more than 158,000 Kentucky adults live with undiagnosed diabetes. Several factors including smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and poor nutrition can influence the onset and severity of type 2 diabetes. When unmanaged, diabetes may lead to serious health problems including hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, loss of teeth, depression, arthritis, asthma and more.

The good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable. Simple changes made in everyday life, such as learning how to improve eating habits, adding daily exercise and taking steps to minimize stress can make a significant impact on a person’s health. Symptoms can be difficult to recognize, so it is important to know the risk factors and attend regular doctor visits.

For more information about the Diabetes Education programs available at PMC, call 606-218-3513.