NKFM celebrates National Women’s Health Week

By Carly Giles

Communications Coordinator for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

OSCEOLA COUNTY — This year, National Women’s Health Week is May 8 through May 14. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is recognizing National Women’s Health Week throughout the month of May by educating women about living a healthy life at any age and how to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of kidney failure.

About 12.6 million or 10.8 percent of all women age 20 and older have diabetes in the U.S. When not managed properly, diabetes can lead to chronic kidney disease, blindness, lower limb amputation, heart attack and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic kidney disease was the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. and diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2010.

Women with diabetes have a shorter life expectancy than women without diabetes, and women are at greater risk of blindness from diabetes than men. Additionally, the risk of heart disease is more serious for women with diabetes than men because women with diabetes have lower survival rates and poorer quality of life than men with diabetes. Furthermore, death rates for women aged 25 to 44 years with diabetes are more than three times the rate for women without diabetes.

The good news is that diabetes and many diabetes-related complications can be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity can help control blood glucose, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol for women with diabetes as well as those who are at risk. It is recommended that adults with diabetes perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and resistance training at least twice a week to maintain blood sugar control. It is also important to make healthy food choices and reduce portion sizes, which can help with diabetes prevention and management as well.

Diabetes is largely self-managed — patients are responsible for 99 percent of their care. For this reason, women with diabetes should regularly visit their doctor and take all prescribed medications.

Although controlling diabetes and reducing risk takes work, it’s worth it. By being active regularly — even in small amounts — and reducing body weight with healthy nutrition, type 2 diabetes can be controlled and prevented.

For resources and programs on preventing and managing diabetes and kidney disease visit nkfm.org.