33% of San Antonians have prediabetes, so get checked

diabetes in men
Flu shots are critically important for those with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes

Contact: Will Sansom, 210-567-2579, sansom@uthscsa.edu

SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 10, 2022) — Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a consequence of multiple medical problems occurring simultaneously. The body has less insulin — the hormone that lowers blood sugar — and is not sensitive to it. This results in chronically high levels of glucose (sugar) circulating in the blood, which over time damages vessels, tissues and organs.

During Diabetes Awareness Month (November), UT Health San Antonio endocrinologist Carolina Solis-Herrera, MD, reminds the community that one in every three people in San Antonio has prediabetes, which physicians define by a hemoglobin A1C percentage of 5.7% to 6.4%. Hemoglobin A1C is a blood test that measures average glucose levels over the past three months.

Carolina Solis-Herrera, MD
Carolina Solis-Herrera, MD

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure for at-risk individuals. “We are entering flu season, and an infection can spike glucose levels,” Solis-Herrera said. “We urge everyone — especially those with diabetes and prediabetes — to be vaccinated against the flu as soon as possible.”

One in six San Antonians already has type 2 diabetes, which is defined by an A1C percentage of 6.5% or higher. At 16% type 2 diabetes prevalence, San Antonio is 6 percentage points higher than the U.S. average of 10%. The disease is much more highly prevalent in Hispanics, who make up more than 60% of the Alamo City’s population.

Diabetes and prediabetes are cardiovascular disease risk factors. Predisposed individuals are at higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Solis-Herrera said UT Health Physicians, the clinical practice of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, has extensive experience in detecting and managing prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders. Call the UT Health Physicians endocrinology team at 210-450-9050 or visit Diabetes.

As its name indicates, prediabetes is a prequel of diabetes. “About 10% of patients with prediabetes will go on to develop diabetes-related eye disease, kidney disease or neuropathy of the lower extremities,” Solis-Herrera said. “Healthy eating and regular exercise (30 minutes a day five days a week) can help prevent these debilitating complications.”

Young and old alike should have regular checkups, she urged. Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are being found more frequently in children. “Here in San Antonio a few years ago, we had the youngest case in the world, a 5-year-old with type 2 diabetes,” Solis-Herrera said. UT Health San Antonio pediatrics faculty offer childhood diabetes detection and care at University Health’s Texas Diabetes Institute. Call 210-358-5437 or visit Pediatric Endocrinology.

Recently two classes of drugs — GLP-1 receptor agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors — have proven to be very effective in treating type 2 diabetes and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, Solis-Herrera said. SGLT-2 inhibitors, additionally, show benefit in reducing the risk and progression of kidney disease. Weight loss is another outcome of these drug therapies.

“These medications are widely available, and most insurances cover them,” Solis-Herrera said. “Combination therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes is proving more effective than single-drug therapy, so your doctor may prescribe more than one medicine to treat the disease.”

Many San Antonians do not know they have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. An aversion to the traditional method of monitoring blood glucose level through finger sticks may have prevented some individuals from being screened. “Importantly, there is technology that is readily available that helps individuals monitor their glucose levels without finger sticks,” Solis-Herrera said. “There are also continuous glucose monitoring systems that check sugar throughout the day. We are advancing in our ability to diagnose and manage this very common disease.”

Dec. 8 educational activity for clinicians, researchers and trainees       

A conference for health care professionals and UT Health San Antonio faculty, students, residents and fellows is scheduled for 1 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Pestana Lecture Hall, Room 3.104A, at UT Health San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78229. The event is the “La Frontera Symposium — Metabolic Summit: The Twin Epidemics of Obesity and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).”

Experts from San Antonio and beyond will dive into discussions and challenges about these major diseases plaguing our society and the therapies being developed to fight them. Registration.

Leading subject matter experts will present their research findings and future goals:

  • Sam Klein, MD, chief scientific officer of the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Philipp Scherer, PhD, of the Touchstone Diabetes Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • Naim Alkhouri, MD, vice president of academic affairs, chief of transplant hepatology and director of the Fatty Liver Program at Arizona Liver Health, faculty member of the American Gastroenterological Association
  • Luke Norton, PhD, of UT Health San Antonio, assistant professor, Department of Medicine-Division of Diabetes
  • Marzieh Salehi, MD, MS, FACP, of UT Health San Antonio, associate professor of medicine, Department of Medicine-Division of Diabetes

The conference is presented by the Office for Research of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) is a primary driver for San Antonio’s $42.4 billion health care and biosciences sector, the city’s largest economic generator. As the largest research university in South Texas, with an annual research portfolio of approximately $350 million, UT Health San Antonio drives substantial economic impact through its five professional schools, a diverse workforce of 7,200, an annual operating budget of more than $1 billion and a clinical practice that provides more than 2 million patient visits each year. Furthermore, UT Health San Antonio plans to add more than 1,500 higher-wage jobs over the next five years to serve San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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