Growing impact of diabetes on Georgia - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Growing impact of diabetes on Georgia

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Medical alert - one in nine people in Georgia is affected by diabetes, the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Georgia state and local leaders say it is time to let people know Georgia is concerned about diabetes.

Dave Smith, with the American Diabetes Association, explained a new program announced at St. Joseph's/Candler recognizing a diabetic complication each month. It's designed to reach out to more of Georgia's population for prevention, diagnosis and management. 

"It's called the 20/20 program and the 20/20 is going to focus your eye on a diabetic complication on the 20th of each month. It's an alert to the public about these complications and their seriousness and the way you can reduce your chances of facing them and hopefully avoid them all together." 

June 20 is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Day in Georgia. DPN is the most prevalent complication caused by diabetes, leading to foot pain, problems walking and amputation.

Paul McKinney was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996. 

"I am a below the knee amputee of my left leg and I have a half of my right foot," says McKinney. 

Dr. Thomas Newton with St. Joseph's/Candler explains the seriousness of wounds resulting from diabetes that don't heal and lead to amputation as one of the major complications of the disease. 

"We know that statistically that once that occurs and if that doesn't heal and leads to an amputation that the mortality rate is actually higher than some cancers."

Newton works with diabetic patients at the Center for Hyperbarics and Wound Care at St. Joseph's/Candler that provides pure oxygen treatments to speed the healing process.

"In our community alone just in our service area we have over 40,000 diabetic patients over the age of 40," said Marilyn Johnson, director of the center.  

For more information about on the 20/20 Program, the American Diabetes Association websiteor the Center for Hyperbarics and Wound Care at St. Joseph's Candler website or call 800.DIABETES. 

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