Transforming Health: blood sugar screenings

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Nov 21, 2013 4:00 AM

(Harrisburg) -- One in 12 Americans has diabetes, but Pinnacle Health Endocrinologist Renu Joshi says a quarter of them don’t even know it.

She’s just as concerned about the additional 79 million Americans with what’s known as pre-diabetes.

"So think about one-in-four,” Dr. Joshi explains. “One out of four of us walking around has pre-diabetes. And with pre-diabetes, the clock starts ticking for heart attack right at that time."

Heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and loss of limb are just some of the life-threatening complications that can result if diabetes is left unchecked. So, Joshi is calling on Pennsylvanians to get screened for diabetes.


Dr. Renu Joshi

“If you don’t know you’re numbers, you’re not going to do anything about it,” she says.

Pinnacle Health spent a recent World Diabetes Day, in the state Capitol East Wing Rotunda offering free screenings to passersby. The target range for fasting blood sugar levels is 70 – 100 mg/dl.

If diabetes is left uncontrolled, patients risk winding up in front of Geisinger’s doctor Kathya Zinszer, a podiatrist who works in limb recovery.

"If I never see another wound that's from diabetes, I will be the happiest person because we can prevent it,” Dr. Zinszer says. “And when I have to tell a patient there's nothing left to do because you came too late and you're losing your limb, that's devastating because I know our future doesn't have to hold that."

But, Zinszer calls diabetes a disease of second chances.


Pinnacle Health’s Juanita Rogers was testing blood sugar levels at the state Capitol

"By changing your lifestyle you can actually control the outcome of what can happen from diabetes,” she explains. “So moderating what you're eating, exercising, lowering your blood sugar -- and it's one of the few diseases that you get that chance, and can literally be drug-free and live a healthy life."

It’s the message resonating throughout Pennsylvania during Diabetes Awareness Month: the disease is often preventable.

One of the first steps is recognizing the symptoms -- including unusual thirst, blurred vision or cuts and bruises that are slow to heal.

Pinnacle’s Dr. Joshi adds everyone should know their blood glucose numbers. “It's not just one event like this that's going to do anything. We need to do events like this every day so more people can be tested,” says Joshi, who recommends everyone 45 and over be tested for diabetes every year.


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