By Natasha Persaud
If you have elevated glucose levels, cholesterol or blood pressure, regular counseling from your doctor may help you reach targets faster than usual, suggests a Feb 2012 study in Diabetes Care. And achieving these treatment goals can slash your risk of developing diabetes complications, such as heart disease.
Compared to people who visited their doctors infrequently, study participants who saw their primary care doctors at least once a month and received lifestyle counseling achieved these goals faster:
- Glucose control (Hemoglobin A1C of 7 percent or less) in 3.5 months compared to 23 months
- LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dL in less than 4 months compared to more than two years
- Blood pressure less than 130/85 mmHg in less than a month versus nearly six months
Lifestyle counseling likely involved advice on increasing physical activity, adhering to a diabetes diet, reducing dietary fat and losing excess weight. Persistence and continual encouragement by the doctor may have been key.
The study was observational, meaning cause and effect couldn’t be established. However, it adds valuable insights to the growing body of evidence on lifestyle counseling. Researchers examined data on more people over a longer period of time in a real world setting (primary care offices) than in previous studies; more than 30,000 people with diabetes were followed for an average of two years.
The message for people with diabetes? Become informed about achieving a healthy lifestyle. In addition to your primary care doctor, reach out to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nutritionists or exercise physiologists. You might also try group counseling sessions.
Morrison, et al. Lifestyle Counseling in Routine Care and Long-Term Glucose, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Control in Patients With Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012 Feb;35(2):334-41.