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All Diabetics Need is Online, Medical Feedback: Korean Study Shows That Patients Monitor Blood Sugar Levels Better When Given In

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:11pm

Just came back from a much-needed mini-vacation (which also included a photo shoot for an upcoming national article in which I'm featured).

Anyhow, a fascinating press release awaited me all about a 30-month South Korean study, which showed that patients with diabetes, who have online access and feedback from their doctors are better able to lower and stabilize their blood glucose levels than those who just visit a doctor every few months.

The study, which is in the current (December) issue of Diabetes Care (which is published by the American Diabetes Assocation), discusses this fascinating work done by Kun-Ho Yoon, M.D., Ph.D. and his colleagues from the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at The Catholic University of Korea's Kangnam St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul, Korea.

Essentially, the Korean researchers found that diabetics, who uploaded their glucose levels from home and emailed questions to health care providers about their weight, blood pressure, medications, and lifestyle changes, were much more successful at keeping their blood sugar levels under control than people who saw just saw health care providers during regular office visits.

The differences were considerable: The group that chatted online with health care providers kept their mean A1C levels of 6.9 percent, compared to the mean level of 7.5 percent for those who didn't talk to medical professionals online. Both groups of patients visited the doctor every three months.

What sounds absolutely wonderful about this program is that the Internet users even had a chance to email questions and get info at their convenience (perhaps even several times a week) from an endocrinologist, nurse, dietitian and clinical instructors. A doctor even sent responses once every two weeks.

Now that's what I call an amiable online bedside manner!

In case you're wondering, the ADA recommends that most people with diabetes maintain A1C levels at 7 percent or less. In fact, studies even show that if you do this, you could reduce your risk for such diabetes-related complications as eye, nerve and kidney damage. (A1C measures long-term blood glucose control, calculated over a two-to-three month period.)

"We expect this program will contribute to reducing complications and improving the quality of life for patients with diabetes," the researchers concluded.

Now, let's hope that American doctors get on board with a similiar such fabulous program!

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