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Check Up to Assess Risk: Pharmacies Offering Free Diabetes Tests to Help Curb Disease

August 4, 2008

By Kim Archer, Tulsa World, Okla.

Aug. 4–Next time you’re picking up a pack of gum or a prescription at your neighborhood pharmacy, you might check out your risk of developing diabetes.

The University of Oklahoma has launched a research project offering free diabetes risk assessments for adults at more than 40 pharmacies in the state. That number is expected to grow to 150 by year’s end.

“Community pharmacies are accessible. You’ve got them everywhere, in rural areas and metropolitan areas,” said Nancy Letassy, the director of diabetes education and training at the Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center. “Physicians aren’t always as accessible.”

The Hamm center and the OU College of Pharmacy are leading the “Know Your Risk” project to curb the high prevalence of diabetes among Oklahomans.

“We have a disproportionate share of diabetes in this state,” Letassy said. “We rank high for obesity and have larger numbers of ethnic groups, such as native Americans, African-Americans and Hispanics who have diabetes. And our diets include a higher fat intake.”

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. In Type 1 diabetes, the

body does not produce insulin. In the more common Type 2 diabetes, the body fails to properly use the insulin it produces. The condition increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and limb amputations.

Through the program, seniors in OU’s pharmacy school approach customers at area pharmacies with a one-page questionnaire to identify people who have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The assessment is voluntary and no identifying information is required.

Pre-diabetes refers to those whose blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not yet in the diabetic range. Those at high risk are encouraged to see a doctor and get a blood test for the disease, Letassy said.

An estimated 54 million Americans, including 500,000 Oklahomans, have pre-diabetes.

If people with pre-diabetes lost just 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight and walked 1 1/2 hours each week, their risk of developing diabetes would be reduced by 58 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says that diabetes has been diagnosed in nearly 10 percent of Oklahomans, and an additional 6 percent don’t know they have the chronic disease.

Oklahoma has the sixth-highest mortality rate from diabetes in the country, health officials said.

Edie Schneeberger of Oklahoma City was tagged as high risk for the disease through her pharmacist a number of years ago.

“I was pretty resistant,” she said. After undergoing blood tests, she found out that she had Type 2 diabetes. A lifestyle change was in order.

“My doctor let me spew and shout and scream and carry on. I told her I had no time for this. Then she said: ‘It’s your health. You don’t have time not to.’ ” Schneeberger said. She has since lost weight, learned to eat better and been exercising more.

“If you’re a diabetic or pre-diabetic, you want to know,” she said. “Believe me. I want to keep my eyesight and my body parts. Knowing it is so much better than not knowing.”

Kim Archer 581-8315 kim.archer@tulsaworld.com

Risk factors for diabetes or pre-diabetes

— Age 45 or older

— Overweight or body mass index greater than 25 (although skinny people can have diabetes)

— Inactivity

— Diagnosis of elevated cholesterol

— Diagnosis of high blood pressure

— High blood sugar

— Family history of diabetes, especially in a parent or sibling

— History of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke Family background, especially Alaska Native, American Indian, African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islander

— Gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds

— In women, a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome

Source: National Institutes of Health

Couch Pharmacy, 444 S. Sheridan Road

Drug Warehouse #19, 3063 S. Sheridan Road

Drug Warehouse #2, Claremore

Med-X #20, 6040 S. Yale Ave.

Med-X #15, Bixby Osborn Drugs, Miami

OU Clinic Pharmacy, 4444 E. 41st St.

Raley Pharmacy, Catoosa

Reasor’s Pharmacy #13, 11005 E. 41st St.

Reasor’s Pharmacy #17, Catoosa

Reasor’s Pharmacy #9, Owasso

Reasor’s Pharmacy #14, Broken Arrow

Saffa Compounding Pharmacy, 8002 S. Sheridan Road

Sam’s Club Pharmacy #10-8263, 4420 S. Sheridan Road

Spoon Drug, Sand Springs

T. Roy Barnes Drugry #04, 3404 S. Yale Ave.

T. Roy Barnes Drugry #05, 9757 E. 31st St.

Inola Drug, Inola

Walgreens Pharmacy #11588, 3218 S. 79th East Ave.

Wal-Mart Pharmacy #12, Claremore

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Copyright (c) 2008, Tulsa World, Okla.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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