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Keeping diabetes under control shouldn’t be something a person has to do alone, according to a new study by Alexander Turchin, MD, MS, director of Informatics Research in the BWH Division of Endocrinology. Lifestyle counseling from a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, and dietitian or support group can help people significantly manage their diabetes.
Turchin and his colleagues examined the medical records of more than 30,000 people living with diabetes who had high blood glucose, blood pressure or cholesterol levels. All participants had been treated in a primary care setting for at least two years. Researchers found that those who had frequent lifestyle counseling as part of their routine primary care were able to quickly lower their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels compared to those who did not receive it as often.
Patients who were counseled once a month or more had the best results, taking an average of 3.9 weeks to reach their target goals for A1C (a type of blood glucose measurement), blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Patients who only received counseling once every one to six months took longer, averaging around 13.5 months to reach treatment goals.
“This study shows that persistent lifestyle counseling can and should be a critical piece of any routine diabetes treatment plan,” said Turchin. “It gets people to goals faster than when they are not given continued encouragement and information on how to increase physical activity levels, eat properly and reduce lipids (fats).”