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Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body does not process food for use as energy. The food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that is positioned near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin as well as it should. Sugars begin to build up in your blood.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Idaho. It can cause serious health complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of lower-extremities. The coexistance of type 2 diabetes and hypertension is harmful to cardiovascular health. Impaired glucose tolerance nearly doubles stroke risk as compared with patients with normal glucose levels. At least 65% of people with diabetes die of some form of heart disease or stroke. Heart disease death rates among adults with diabetes are two to four times higher than the rates for adults without diabetes.

For an accurate diagnosis, individuals should visit and speak with their healthcare provider. Some individuals may experience:

Symptoms of Diabetes
Frequent urination Excessive thirst
Unexplained weight loss Extreme hunger
Sudden vision changes Tingling or numbness in hands/feet
Frequently feeling very tired Dry skin
Sores that are slow to heal More infections than usual

Click here to learn more about the different types of diabetes.

Who is at Risk?
Older than 45 years Overweight or obese
Lack of physical activity History of gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs at birth
Family history Body shape (pear vs. apple)
Over nutrition, especially fats and processed foods Excess calories

How to Manage Your Diabetes
1) Learn about diabetes
Ask your healthcare provider to clarify which type you have. To find a program near you, click here.
Join a diabetes self-management education program.
2) Know your diabetes ABCs
Talk to your healthcare provider about how to manage your numbers for hbA1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Set a blood pressure goal with your healthcare provider.
hbA1c levels should be below 7. LDL cholesterol should be below 100.
HDL cholesterol should be greater than 40 in men and 50 in women.
3) Manage your diabetes
Follow your meal plan. Obtain a healthy weight.
Choose to eat healthy foods. Ask for help when you need it.
Keep fish and lean meat and poultry portions to 3 ounces. Learn techniques to help coping with stress.
Limit your fat and salt intake. Stop smoking.
Eat foods that are high in fiber. Take medicines even when you feel good.
Try to exercise 30 to 60 minutes at least multiple days a week. Check your feet every day.
Brush and floss your teeth every day. Check your blood pressure as directed.
Check your blood glucose levels as directed by your health care provider. Report any changes in your eyesight.
4) Get routine care to avoid problems

At each visit be sure to have a:

  • Blood pressure check.
  • Foot check.
  • Weight check.
  • Self-care plan review.
  • Check your hbA1c levels twice a year.

Annually check:

  • Cholesterol levels.
  • Triglyceride levels.
  • Complete foot exam.
  • Dental exam - tell your dentist you have diabetes.
  • Dilated eye exam.
  • Flu shot.
  • Check for kidney problems.

Pamela Rich
Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
Program Coordinator
Eastern Idaho Public Health 
1250 Hollipark Drive
Idaho Falls, ID 83401

E-mail: prich@eiph.idaho.gov