Hospital looks to curb ‘an insidious process’
Aspen may seem like a community where Olympic-level fitness is a requisite for citizenship, but a team of health-care providers at Aspen Valley Hospital have set up a program for residents whose health is at risk because of a sedentary lifestyle.A nurse, a dietitian, an exercise physiologist and a diabetes educator have teamed up at AVH to offer a workshop to treat people in danger of developing diabetes or other problems due to poor health and fitness.”There’s a whole group of people here that aren’t in Lycra running up Smuggler,” nurse Mary Margaret O’Gara said. “There’s a whole lot of people that need to make a lifestyle change because of serious risks to their health.”The program will target patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, more commonly known as “pre-diabetes.” The syndrome, which afflicts around 40 million adult Americans, is a precursor to adult onset diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Patients with the syndrome are up to 20 times more likely to have a heart attack than healthy patients, and will likely develop diabetes at some point in their life.Metabolic syndrome patients show at least three of the following: • Waist measurement of greater than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women. • Low HDL, the “good” cholesterol (less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women). • High triglyceride level (greater than 150). • High blood pressure (greater than 130/85). • High blood sugar (100 to 125 mg/dl).The treatment program for the syndrome has been developed by the nationally run Diabetes Prevention Program, which emphasizes early detection and lifestyle changes.For the workshops, AVH experts will counsel patients on how to implement moderate changes in their lives, including the reduction of 5 percent to 7 percent of a patient’s body weight and at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week.”Lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the development of diabetes are extremely important,” said O’Gara. “The period of time before diabetes is diagnosed is when heart disease begins to develop. It is an insidious process. A person who has just been diagnosed with diabetes has the same risk for future heart attack as the patient in the ICU who just experienced a heart attack.”The program, which consists of nine sessions spread over four months, costs $400. O’Gara expects many of her patients to be referred by physicians, but patients can book into the workshop on their own. Patients should contact their insurance carrier to check coverage.For more information, call O’Gara at 544-7394.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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