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Diabetes - HbA1c test

I became interested in Diabetes as I have a very elderly mother who has been cursed with many health issues that from her viewpoint were not going to prevent her seeing her only Grandson from reaching his 18th Birthday and she would love to see him pass his driving test, find a nice girl etc. So, a few years back, when she was 94, she found out quite by chance that she was prediabetic. She completely changed her ways. She stopped eating sweets between meals, reduced her intake of sugary drinks, switched some of her refined sugar options to natural occurring sugars and gained the gold star in her class of prediabetics for reversing her trend by the greatest reduction.

Now, I had been aware that she had a sweet tooth all her life and being her carer, I had warned her that she might be moving towards prediabetes (but we never listen to our loved ones do we?). If back then I had had access to these tests, I would have suggested she get tested way before the GP picked it up. Not all GP surgeries offer Prediabetic Classes and if they do, they are not always accessible to those who work, because it means a 10-month commitment to attend on the same day each month for several hours. (See the ​Habits to Health Programme. For a taster of what we deep dive into join our facebook group for ladies over 40 The Flourish Academy - Nutrition, Mindset and Lifestyle for Women over 40 ). During this period, you are given follow up HbA1c tests which monitor your progress and prove to you that your efforts are not in vain. Diabetes alone has many associated diseases, not just itself, that can reduce your life expectancy. High Blood Pressure being one.

High blood pressure (BP) is also a known silent killer. Diabetes, high cholesterol, and stress are all contributors. I see many Chiropractic patients who have one or more of these going on behind the scenes and this testing within clinic affords them a way to gain peace of mind without venturing to their GP practice. Alternatively, it can highlight issues that do indeed need to be addressed by their GP before too much damage is done. You would think that you would know that you had high BP, but it can be silent.

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If you think you could be at risk of developing diabetes, there is a quick and anonymous quiz which can be accessed via this link (Diabetes UK website)

Lets look at some case studies...

Case Study 1

Sadly it's not always those who have no medical background either, who fall fowl to this diabetes. A medical professional working within the ambulance service, would regularly trigger Compassion Fatigue ( a form of drip fed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that despite will power would cause them to smoke and comfort eat. This person ended up with a lower leg amputation. They didn't seek the monitoring blood tests because they feared they would be rendered not fit for duty. This process here at Greenacres would have been perfect for them.

Case Study 2

I have a known diabetic who falls just within the diagnosed scale who, for one reason or another has refused medications. They report on frequent ocasion that they have been feeling light headed, dizzy or that their muscles have been very tender. We monitor their blood pressure but I have to drop it on them without pre amble as they also suffer white coat syndrome where their BP rises at the suggestion. This person also finds it very difficult due to their job to get appointments for blood tests and diabetic monitoring due to their work.

Case Study 3

Just recently I had a patient with exceptionally high BP, they had no idea but a regular BP check highlighted the issue and that same day his GP arranged to have it checked and medication was dispensed. This person had no idea, no symptoms at all. Stress and the associated cortisol release can long term, lead to diabetes and also high BP and inflammation. On questioning they recalled pressure headaches prior to retirement when the going got tough at work but not able to access their GP due to working away they let it slide.

Case Study 4

Another person comes to mind, a self confessed 'sweet toother' who would drink 4+ pints of milk a day because "milk is good for you" and often nothing else before dinner. They thought they were having a heart attack at one point as they passed out calling 999. It turned out to be diabetes. Previous symptoms had included sweating, palpitations (fast/irregular heart rate) and swollen hands. THis person despite being on medication has refused to reduce their sugar intake and have recently had a partial toe amputation.

Case Study 5

My own mother was diagnosed as pre-diabetic in her 90s. She had always had a sweet tooth and boredom due to immobility had seen her reach for more and more snacky sweet things. She attended an NHS pre-diabteic course lasting 10 months where she attended one day a month and learnt about diet, nutrition, mindfulness, exercise etc. Throughout she was tested for her HbA1c reading and successfully reduced her score significantly. The only suggestion we observed that she may have been diabetic was poor healing and an increased sleepiness. As I write she is now 96 and enjoying all be it a limited life due to other skeletal immobilities.

Useful websites for further reading

Diabetes - HEART UK  Link between diabetes and cholesterol
Diabetes UK - Know diabetes. Fight diabetes. | Diabetes UK 
Diabetes - NHS (www.nhs.uk) 
Search (bhf.org.uk)