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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Help available for people living with diabetes

(ARA) - It's a long drive out to the rural diabetes clinic where she makes her educational presentations, but Janie Burmester knows that the work she's doing can have a huge impact on people's lives. Burmester is one of about 15,000 Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) in the United States. CDEs are health professionals, certified by the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators, who teach self-management techniques to patients diagnosed with diabetes.

With nearly 24 million Americans currently living with diabetes, the need for diabetes education has never been greater, so a special program called the CDE HELP Team is providing free counseling and support to people who need a helping hand with their diabetes. The CDE HELP Team was created by sanofi-aventis U.S., a world leader in diabetes care, to help people with diabetes.

"An overall diabetes treatment plan includes diet, exercise and diabetes medications, which may include insulin. Insulin can be a powerful tool to help manage blood sugar levels. For patients starting on insulin, the first months of therapy are critical for learning about how to take their insulin and working with their treating health care provider to determine the dose that is right for them," says Burmester. "The CDE HELP team is designed to provide extra support for people with diabetes during this time."

Since the program began, the CDE HELP Team has educated more than 100,000 patients with diabetes. Currently, 70 CDE HELP Team members are available in cities across the United States. Recently, Burmester's efforts have expanded to include outreach to nursing homes and other small clinics in the area.

While grassroots educators can have a major impact in local communities, broader national trends indicate that there is still much more work to be done in improving care for people with diabetes. In fact, about 40 percent of diagnosed diabetes patients in America are not achieving the general blood sugar control target of A1C less than 7 percent recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

"The A1C test measures average blood glucose levels over the past two- to three-month period - it's a crucial test that everyone living with diabetes should be aware of, but many don't fully understand what it means," says Burmester. "I often tell the patients I work with that improving their A1C scores can make a positive impact on lowering their risk for developing diabetes-related complications like blindness and amputation."

Innovations like continuous blood sugar monitors and insulin pen delivery devices have made managing diabetes easier, but the health care system has struggled to keep up with what is rapidly becoming a global diabetes crisis. Experts predict that the number of people living with diabetes could rise to a staggering 350 million within 20 years.

"We won't be able to turn around these statistics in a day, but with the help of the CDE HELP Team, we can make a difference at the grassroots level," says Burmester.

Additional information about the CDE HELP Team, including a search tool that helps identify local CDEs in your area, can be found at:

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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