Diabetes prevention program saving lives during COVID-19 crisis

CDC says 40% of Americans killed by COVID-19 also had diabetes
Posted at 3:29 PM, Jan 25, 2021

Small changes can make a big difference, especially for people battling Type 2 diabetes during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We know that by doing these things, people can reduce their risk for developing diabetes by 58%,” said Jessica Giffin, a lifestyle coach with the YMCA’s diabetes prevention program.

Giffin says most people who have Type 2 diabetes, don’t even know that they have it. This program, through better nutrition and increased exercise, can prevent all kinds of health issues, especially during the pandemic.

“When we set our bodies up for success by taking care of ourselves, we can really help with other things that are facing us such as this COVID-19 crisis,” she said.

For a person that went through this program, Frank Erisman says it made the difference between life and death.

“I think the diabetes program probably saved my life,” said the senior citizen.

Erisman lost 30 pounds and was able to get off his high blood pressure medication after completing this diabetes prevention program.

A few months later, however, he was hospitalized with COVID-19. Doctors broke the bad news to his wife.

“(They) basically told her I was going to go on a ventilator and probably wouldn’t survive,” Erisman said.

Despite the grim prediction, Erisman made a full recovery he believes because of his new lifestyle and getting his diabetes under control.

“I was in the hospital when they were just learning how to treat it,” he said of dealing with his COVID infection. “And that doctors thought the weight loss and the oxygen treatments really saved the day.”

Other health experts say more people should consider diabetes prevention programs, especially during the pandemic.

“Outcomes related to hospitalizations for COVID-19, admission to the intensive care unit in need for assisted ventilation and death is two to three times higher than people who live with diabetes than those who don’t,” said Robert Eckel, MD, a current professor of medicine with the University of Colorado, Anschutz and former president of the American Diabetes Association.

He says while many with diabetes also have other medical conditions, preventing diabetes could prevent COVID-19 infection and also save lives.

“Those who are doing better in terms of their overall diabetes control have better outcomes than those who do not do as well,” Eckel said.

That all starts by making small lifestyle changes that could make big differences to someone’s health.