Irena McClain, is with the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, and passionate about preventing the disease. The chronic illness is the result of the body's inability to use and or produce insulin, which is needed to send glucose to the body's cells to burn as energy. McClain says nearly 300,000 Mississippians have Type 2 Diabetes and thousands more have it, but just don't know it. Gone undetected, Type 2 Diabetes can lead to blindness, stroke, kidney disease or heart attack.
"I have two brothers with diabetes. One found out when he had a heart attack and they asked him how long he's had diabetes. He said what are you talking about. I don't have diabetes, and they said yeah, you have it for quite some time." Said McClain.
McClain explained that the signs of fatigue, thirst and frequent urination can be so subtle people don't notice. That's why the CDC initative, "Prevent Diabetes Stat" urges doctors to tell patients when they are pre-diabetic-something that hasn't been routinely done. The plan calls for 16 weeks of lifestyle coaching. With early detection, exercise and diet changes, the number of cases can be reduced by 58 percent. Dr. Wayne Woo, an Endocrinologist in Flowood, embraces the initiative. The certified diabetes educator says, preventing the disease is the goal.
"If the patients are aware that they have a condition and they are aware of the complications that can happen, and aware that they can prevent the disease, they may do something about it." Said Woo.
Irena McClain says up to 30 percent of pre-diabetics will develop Type 2 Diabetes within five years.