Q: My adult son was just discharged from Maui Memorial Medical Center and while he was there, the doctor told him he was prediabetic. I’m so worried that it will turn in to diabetes. How can I help him avoid that?
Jolly Uclaray, diabetes coordinator, Maui Memorial Medical Center: I’m happy to say that you’ve already taken the important first step to be proactive and seek ways to help your son avoid progressing to diabetes. Acknowledging that something must be done is very important.
Your son was diagnosed with prediabetes because his A1C was higher than normal but not enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. He should consider this as a warning and get serious about his health immediately. Prediabetes can be reversed if treated properly and with substantial and consistent lifestyle modifications.
Several factors can contribute to type 2 diabetes and being overweight is the biggest risk factor. If this is the case for your son, he should focus on losing weight through diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes. Incorporating healthier foods, limiting calories and avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages will also help him lose weight and improve his overall health.
Make sure he consults with his doctor about diet and exercise, as they know his specific needs as it relates to glucose levels and how to ease into exercise. It is also important for anyone who is prediabetic or diabetic to monitor blood sugar levels.
At Maui Memorial Medical Center, we provide counseling for diabetes and prediabetes patients while they are staying in the hospital and provide information and resources to them prior to discharge. The Food and Nutrition Services team prepares meals to meet the dietary specifications that are provided by our licensed dietitians for each patient. Because people with diabetes are at risk for heart disease, these meals are lower in sodium and saturated fat and consist of more whole grains.
We also host a Diabetes Support Group meeting on the second Wednesday of each month. The topics vary each month and special guest speakers cover topics like maintaining glucose levels, meal planning, controlling medications and exercise tips, as well as information on some of the side effects of diabetes like loss of vision, and nerve and kidney damage. For more information, call (808) 442-5773.
Q: I have several relatives that suffer from heart disease. What’s the best thing that I can do for my heart to make sure it stays healthy?
Colin Lee, interventional cardiologist: There’s no single thing you can do that’s most important for maintaining a healthy heart, though practicing an overall heart-healthy lifestyle is always a good approach. This should include a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding smoking (first- or second-hand), and working with your primary physician for guidance and help to optimize your health. Since heart and coronary artery disease can start when we’re very young, it’s never too early to start eating right and exercising. Help your children develop heart-healthy habits so they too can maintain a healthy heart.
* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealthsystem.org/contact.