November 19, 2014
During National Diabetes Month this November there are many ominous statistics being highlighted about this debilitating and costly chronic disease, as well as the coexisting conditions that too often come along with it. Perhaps most startling, of the 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes, more than eight million are walking around undiagnosed. Better management of diabetes can extend life, improve overall health and quality of life, and lower risks of heart disease or stroke.
Critical to the fight against chronic disease is better education starting with patients and throughout the entire healthcare spectrum. In support of National Diabetes Month, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and its partners are promoting “Be Smart About Your Heart: Control the ABCs of Diabetes” to help people with diabetes learn they are at greater risk for heart disease and how to lower their risk.
Education on prevention and better management of chronic disease extends far beyond just the patient. Promoting better health truly takes a village, particularly for people with diabetes and other chronic conditions. That “village” should be armed with as much information as possible to achieve better health outcomes and lower costs.
As a part of Ohio State University’s Colleges of Nursing, Medicine and Pharmacy, the National Interprofessional Education and Practice Consortium to Advance Million Hearts® is a great example of equipping healthcare providers with the information they need to make a difference. The program teaches peers how to conduct and interpret Million Hearts® screenings in the community setting. Ohio State University’s Million Hearts® educational modules are free online and offer two options – a Fellowship Module for students and a Community Ambassador Module for community members. In pursuit of preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, the modules have already been utilized by more than 80 organizations and 2,000 individuals across the country.
There is no argument that improving overall cardiovascular health carries with it a multitude of benefits, especially for those living with diabetes – lower blood pressure, better cholesterol levels, improved body weight, better quality of life – to mention a few. Taking advantage of opportunities to educate the many hands of healthcare on ways to promote cardiovascular health must be an important priority in the fight against chronic disease.