If you don't smoke cigarettes, you greatly reduce your risk for
lung cancer and emphysema. If you maintain a healthy weight, eat a moderate
diet, and get regular exercise, you greatly increase the chance that you'll
have a healthy heart.
But if you're at risk for developing type 1 diabetes due to a
family history of the disease or other factors, is there anything you can do to
stop it? The answer is a definite "maybe."
When television's perennially popular Mary Richards walked into WJM's Minneapolis newsroom in 1970, she did more than show the world a single girl could "make it on her own." The award-winning actress who portrayed her -- Mary Tyler Moore -- also showed us diabetes and a career could coexist.
Moore was diagnosed with adult-onset type 1 diabetes in the 1960s, several years before her Emmy-winning show began. But that didn't stop Moore from pursuing her career or turning the world on with a smile...
Diabetes experts now recognize that type 1 diabetes is an
autoimmune disease, in which the body's immune system for some reason turns on
itself and begins to attack and destroy the beta- islet cells of the pancreas
that produce and release insulin. When enough beta islets are destroyed, the
body cannot produce enough insulin to properly regulate blood sugar, resulting
in type 1 diabetes.
Because type 1 diabetes is caused by a normal immune system
gone awry, researchers believe that it may be possible to step in and either
prevent, interrupt, or at least slow down the disease-development process.
Result thus far, however, have been mixed at best.
Diabetes Prevention Trial - type 1
The largest and most ambitious prevention trial conducted to
date is the Diabetes Prevention Trial - type 1 (DPT-1), begun in 1994. The
study was designed to determine if it is possible to prevent or delay the onset
of type 1 diabetes in people who are at risk for developing the disease. The
theory behind the trial was that by receiving low-doses of insulin over a
sustained period, the immune system could learn to become "tolerant" to
insulin and therefore leave the insulin-producing beta-islet cells alone.
After an initial screening, patients were assigned, depending
upon their level of risk (based on family history and genetic profiles), to one
of two trial arms:
The insulin injection trial (completed). People who were determined to be
at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes within five years were randomly
assigned to either a treatment group or control (untreated) group. The
treatment group received twice-daily injections of low-dose, long-acting
insulin, plus a once-a-year, five-day treatment of intravenous insulin
infusion. Unfortunately, this arm of the trial proved to be a bust, with 60% of
patients in both the treated and untreated groups going on to develop type 1
Oral antigen trial. This, the second arm of DPT-1, involved participants at
intermediate risk (25-50%) of developing type 1 diabetes within five years who
are randomly assigned to receive either oral insulin or a placebo (dummy pill).
"This arm of the trial is based on a completely different hypothesis [than
the injection arm]," says diabetes expert John Dupre, FRCP, MA, professor
of medicine at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. "There
is a very plausible story about regulation of the immune system exerted by the
intestine, and there is quite good animal data to suggest it." The trial is
ongoing, with results expected to be announced in 2004.
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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