Diabetes is one of the most common and most devastating diseases in America today. In all, more than 30 million Americans—nearly 10 percent of the total population—have diabetes, including more than 1 million children and 12 million seniors.
It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., and 1.5 million Americans are newly diagnosed each year.
Diabetes is a serious health condition—one that can cause cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, skin conditions and even dementia–and, for medical professionals especially, perhaps the greatest frustration they face when working to address this nationwide health issue is this: Many cases of diabetes are preventable.
“We know there are 30 million Americans who have diabetes, but there’s another 89 million Americans who have prediabetes,” explains Mary Gianforte, a dietitian with the Tidelands Health Diabetes Center in Murrells Inlet. “What this means is that if these individuals don’t do anything about (their health), they will develop diabetes.”
At Tidelands Health, Gianforte is working with a team of health professionals to help prevent the spread of diabetes in our region—mostly by stopping it before it can fully develop in at-risk individuals. Through the Tidelands Health Diabetes Prevention Program, the health system offers education, support and guidance to help reduce the incidence of diabetes in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, where rates of diabetes are substantially higher than the national average.
“Education is a critical cornerstone in the treatment of diabetes,” Gianforte explains. “The more you know, the better you can care for yourself.”