The American Diabetes Association estimates there are 26 million people in the United States with diabetes, the country's seventh leading cause of death. Unfortunately, millions more Americans do not know they have diabetes and only learn about it when treated for one of its life-threatening complications - heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and severe nerve disease.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is unknown, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. Diabetes is diagnosed through a blood test.
On November 9, 2001, the Diabetes Education Center at St. Mary's Hospital received the prestigious American Diabetes Association (ADA) Education Recognition Certificate. With this honor the ADA acknowledges St. Mary's program offers high-quality diabetes self-management education that meets established national standards.
Early diagnoses and successful management helps prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and some of the acute and chronic complications of diabetes. St. Mary's four certified diabetes educators teach their patients preventive, self-management skills to understand how nutrition, exercise, medication, and stress fit into their day-to-day lives. They work closely with each client to establish a personalized program and maintenance plan.
Most importantly, St. Mary's diabetes educators empower their patients, giving them the skills to just live their lives and not be defeated by diabetes.