Local Surgeon Urges Diabetics to Make Health Resolutions Now, Not in 2019

by Morgan Montalvo

WOAI News

With  diabetes – and diabetic amputation – rates in San Antonio about three  times the statewide average, one local vascular surgeon says now, not  New Year’s Eve 2019, is the time to resolve to eat healthier and  exercise, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports. 

Dr.  Lyssa Ochoa, who runs the SAVE Clinic on San Antonio’s southeast side  says, for diabetics and pre-diabetics, lifestyle management should be an  ongoing priority. 

“Not only around the holidays,” Ochoa says, “but every time of year, we  have people with uncontrolled diabetes and they have complications, such  as failing kidneys needing dialysis, such as people with bad  circulation ending up having amputations, people have heart attacks  strokes and death.” 

Ochoa  and her staff have identified and published local zip codes that report  the highest incidences of diabetes and diabetes-related complications:  blindness, amputations, organ failure, heart disease and strokes. 

Those  zip codes overwhelmingly are on San Antonio’s southeast, south and west  sides. 

“These  areas in our communities, we have a population that is dying earlier,  dying younger, up to 20 years younger, than patients on the north side,”  Ochoa says.  

She  recommends immediate, but realistic lifestyle changes, including  substituting fresh produce for fatty, processed holiday foods and  starting a daily activity program that involves at least 30 minutes of  movement, such as walking, working out with hand weights, or a moderate  exercise regimen that leads to cardiovascular strength and endurance, as  well as a healthy mental outlook. 

Ochoa  says her colleagues report ever-increasing percentages of overweight  children in San Antonio. Obesity is linked to juvenile diabetes. 

“Last year I heard that the fastest-growing demographic of obesity is  our eight- to ten-year-olds,” says Ochoa. “And so, that is scary to  think about, the consequences of that.  

 “They have seen teenagers having heart attacks from diabetes, and so  these kinds of accelerated complications from diabetes, the earlier you  get diabetes, it’s scary to think about.”  

Unchecked,  she says, San Antonio's diabetes epidemic could sideline a large  percentage of the local current and future workforce. 

"It’s  our San Antonio community,” says Ochoa. “How do we expect them to get  good jobs, bring industry to the city, if we don’t have our community  healthy and able to work?” 

Among  the positives, Ochoa points to: increased awareness of risk factors and  symptoms of diabetes and pre-diabetes; frank conversations between  patients and health care providers; work by area non-profits and  collaboratives to promote healthy living; and a program that pairs  students at the University of the Incarnate Word Medical School with  diabetics to provide monitoring and support. 

She says self-directed lifestyle changes by more patients will reverse current, dangerous trends. 

“I  see 2019 as the year of collaboration, where we actually come together  with a common goal of trying to make a difference in these health care  outcomes,” Ochoa says.

IMAGE: GETTY

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