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Do You Have Diabetes — And Not Know It?

I recently gave a lecture at the U.S. Embassy, and the presentation was called, “Diabetes: How Can We Prevent It?” (I’ve attached the slide show at the bottom of this post.) The talk went well, and now I’m jazzed about sharing some pearls with my readers. For example, how many of you have been told you have pre-diabetes? Even more worrisome, how many readers have diabetes but don’t know it?

This is not a rare problem at all; it’s estimated that in China alone, maybe 1/3 of people with diabetes are walking around unaware of their disease diagnosis — mostly because they don’t get annual screening tests from a local clinic. Now, there’s a fascinating study just published which screened 900 healthy local Beijingers for diabetes — and discovered pre-diabetes in 22% and actual diabetes in 11%!

The main reason why this concerns me is that, as a family medicine doctor, I treat diabetic patients all the time and I see the serious health effects it can do. I’ve had too many hospital visits to see my patients getting their feet amputated, or going blind, or in the ICU from a diabetic coma. Diabetes, if not treated early, can seriously impact people’s lives. So my #1 mission is to have people not get diabetes in the first place.

This means that people need to be screened. It’s very simple, it’s just a quick 5-minute blood test at an annual exam. If you haven’t had a physical exam in many years, you should get checked. If you’re short on money or without insurance, you can simply go to any local clinic in Beijing.

Why is screening so important? Mostly because diabetes may cause “silent” symptoms but still be silently wearing down down your kidneys, eyes, heart and nerves. Many people, when officially diagnosed, already have permanent damage to these organs. This again is why it’s important to catch diabetes early — once you know, you can aggressively change your lifestyle, and maybe start some diabetes pills, and you can avoid all that long-term organ damage.

Slide Show: Diabetes — How Can We Prevent It?

Here below is a copy of the slide show I gave. You can watch the entire slide show below, full screen and without downloading, by clicking on the 全屏 button on the top right.

Air Pollution in China: New Slideshow

Last week I presented a slide show at Luce to an interesting new group, the Beijing Healthcare Forum. Led by two Fulbright scholars, this new group of interested expats and local Chinese gets together every two weeks to discuss a variety of health care issues. Last week I discussed one of my pet projects — air pollution in China. I have uploaded the slide show which you can watch online below without downloading. For the best view, it’s easiest to click on the “full screen” icon.

I’ve written a few posts regarding air pollution, but this slide show is much more comprehensive, with fun data and graphs regarding:

  • The basics of pollution & mechanisms of disease
  • Effects on health to adults and children
  • Interesting info on the disastrous Great London Smog of 1952
  • Monitoring protocols, worldwide and China
  • Pollution stats for China, Beijing and the world
  • Recommendations – globally and individually

I hope that this type of information can reach James Fallows! He’s the excellent reporter for Atlantic magazine who just finished a long stint in China, but he still reports on China from home. His recent posts said that he wasn’t aware of much data proving that air pollution causes disease. Well,  there is now a lot of evidence from epidemiology studies which show clear morbidity and mortality, both short term and long term, from pollution. There are some outstanding review articles, most recently from NEJM, which showed that for every 10ug/m3 improvement in PM2.5, there is a gain of 0.61 year life expectancy. And plenty of studies (mentioned in the slide show) show dose-related effects on chronic bronchitis, ischemic heart disease, and lung cancer (among others…) starting at a PM10 level of 15 ug/m3. Note that Beijing’s annual PM10, at ~140ug/m3, is nine times higher than this “safe” level. All this data is well supported and reviewed by the WHO and is the rationale to their strict 2005 Guidelines to keep annual PM10 under 20ug/m3.

Good Health Practices: Slide Show Series

Over the last months I’ve created a few online slide shows based on Powerpoint presentations I’ve given in Beijing, and I wanted to review them here. They focus on the most common illnesses, and they review symptoms as well as prevention and treatment. With the magic of the internet, you can instantly view them online with no downloading (full screen available as well, very cool!)

  • H1N1 Flu: The Basics
  • How To Prevent Heart Attacks & Strokes
  • The Common Cold
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Food Poisoning
  • STDs
  • Hayfever
  • How To Prevent Heart Attacks & Strokes

    Heart attacks and stroke combined are the #1 killers in most countries, including China. But there are a lot of lifestyle factors that play into this. In fact, about 90% of your risk for heart attacks and strokes can be modified by your conscious, everyday activities! This should really be an empowering figure for everyone. I’ve created a Powerpoint presentation below that highlights the major factors people can control.

    The important take-home lesson is that you can control your destiny, and your risks, but you first need to assess your risk. A few ways are to:

    Then, you can make informed choices, with or without a doctor’s help.

    The slide show is long but just may change your lifestyle!

    Click on the slide show’s “FULL” icon for full screen.