By George Segall, MD
The good news about diabetes is that with a healthy diet and lifestyle, along with appropriate medications, the disease can be controlled on a regular basis. Over time, however, many patients with diabetes experience complications such as high blood pressure, trouble with their eyesight and foot issues.
By being in tune with your body, you may be able to recognize some of these changes. A good working relationship with your doctor is also helpful. In fact, there are several advances in molecular imaging that physicians can use to help diagnose diabetes-related complications at an earlier stage.
People with diabetes are estimated to be 2-4 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than the general population. Unfortunately, many times heart disease occurs without any warning signs in patients with diabetes. With myocardial perfusion imaging—a type of molecular imaging—physicians have an effective screening tool for patients who may be at high-risk of developing heart disease, allowing for earlier and more effective treatment.
Foot-related complications are another problem for patients with diabetes. Diabetes can cause nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the bones and tissues of the feet, leaving patients vulnerable to infection. New molecular imaging techniques can detect infection at an earlier stage. By catching infection early, treatment can be prescribed sooner, sparing patients from amputation.
Disease management is a part of everyday life for patients with diabetes, and prevention is key. Being aware of your risk factors for diabetes-related complications and working with your doctor to mitigate them is crucial to ensuring a healthy life. If your physician notes that you are at-risk for a specific complication, there are options available for more information about your condition so you can plan appropriately.
George Segall, MD, serves as chief of the Nuclear Medicine Service at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, Calif., and professor of radiology at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. He is currently president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and authored six book chapters on nuclear and molecular imaging.
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