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Enroll in a Free Webinar to Find Out Latest Breakthroughs in Identifying and Treating Hypoglycemia

A female NP treats a female patient for diabetes

This free webinar will help you discuss hypoglycemia preparedness and treatment with patients.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are leaders in educating and caring for patients with diabetes. Hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition that can affect anyone with diabetes who is treated with insulin preparations or oral insulin secretagogues. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), “Four in 5 people with Type 1 diabetes and nearly half of those with Type 2 diabetes reported a low blood sugar event at least once over a four-week period.”

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time when communities across the country bring attention to diabetes. This month, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) encourages you to review the various tools and resources available to NPs to strengthen and enhance your diabetes care. Once you’ve reviewed these materials, reflect on the important role you have in helping your patients meet their diabetes management goals safely. Finally, hone in on hypoglycemia to learn more about how you can help your patients avoid and treat this common and concerning condition. You are instrumental in the care of people with diabetes and hypoglycemia.

Raising Diabetes Awareness in Your Community

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than 133 million Americans are living with diabetes (37.3 million) or prediabetes (96 million).” In fact, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Regardless of whether a patient has Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, it is critical they work with their NP and other health care providers for consistent management of their condition to ensure their health and quality of life is optimized. That’s why NIDDK has declared the theme of its 2022 National Diabetes Awareness Month campaign “Diabetes Management: It Takes a Team,” placing patients at the center of a diabetes care team. You can continue to provide quality care for your patients and be a part of their diabetes care team by reviewing the National Diabetes Month 2022 Toolkit by NIDDK.

In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled. On top of that, more than 1 in 3 adults has prediabetes. Yet, more than 80% of those adults don’t even know they have prediabetes and are at a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. You can help turn the tide on this disconcerting trend by raising diabetes awareness in your community. Help overcome therapeutic inertia in Type 2 diabetes with this practice tool that offers effective strategies you can use to talk your patient through their wellness plan. Explore additional clinical resources on endocrinology from your NP organization.

Addressing the Various Effects of Diabetes

Patients with diabetes may experience a wide variety of side effects that can affect their quality of life. Diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart, and it is linked to some types of cancer. In fact, diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations and adult blindness. In 2018, more than 1.87 million people with diabetes were hospitalized for major cardiovascular disease. The prevalence and severity of these comorbidities and conditions among people with diabetes can vary significantly depending on their ability to manage their diabetes and their diabetic care plan.

No two patients with diabetes are exactly alike. Help steer your patients through their diabetes care plan and make informed decisions by sharing this informative table on diabetic medications. Learn how to identify and treat diabetes related autonomic neuropathies and stay on the cutting edge of all things related to diabetes care and connect with your peers by joining the Endocrinology Specialty Practice Group, one of 28 AANP Communities.

Improving Hypoglycemia Outcomes

In 2018, approximately 17 million adult emergency department visits were reported with diabetes as a listed diagnosis. Of these visits, 242,000 were for hypoglycemia, while 248,000 were for hyperglycemic crisis. Although hypoglycemia has a variety of causes and symptoms, patients with diabetes are at high risk for hypoglycemia if they:

  • Use insulin, especially if they have been using insulin for a long time.
  • Use diabetes medications called sulfonylureas (glipizide, glimepiride or glyburide) or meglitinides.
  • Miss or delay meals.
  • Have liver or kidney disease.
  • Have had previous hypoglycemic episodes or experience hypoglycemia unawareness.

AANP is here to help you and your patients prevent, prepare for and treat hypoglycemia. Share this helpful flipchart on controlling glucose levels, designed for your patients with Type 2 diabetes, and review this hypoglycemia tool with your patients to teach them how to prevent and treat low blood sugar. Remind them of the three vital strategies to successfully treat their hypoglycemia:

  1. Use the 15-15 rule: Consume 15 grams of quick-acting carbs and check your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. If your blood sugar is still less than 70 mg/dL, repeat this process. Once your blood glucose levels are above 70 mg/dL, eat a snack with protein and work with your health care provider to keep your blood glucose levels above 70 mg/dL.
  2. Take glucagon: Glucagon is a treatment for severe hypoglycemia that is prescribed by your health care provider and kept on hand just in case it is needed. If you are treating your diabetes with insulin or are at high risk for hypoglycemia, you should always have glucagon with you.
  3. Talk to your NP: If you experience hypoglycemia, you should always follow up with your health care provider. Make sure to bring your glucose level logs and any notes about your hypoglycemic episodes (symptoms, what happened right before the episode, how it was treated).

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is also an excellent tool to monitor trends in glucose levels, identify developing hypoglycemia and often avoid hypoglycemia by addressing it before it becomes an issue. Continuous glucose monitoring systems provide alerts if certain predetermined hypo- or hyperglycemic thresholds are exceeded. Enroll in Updates in Real Time Continuous Glucose Monitoring Use for Nurse Practitioners to learn more about this useful and impactful technology.

Explore the AANP CE Center for more courses on endocrinology and diabetes care. many of which are available for free or at a discount for AANP members.

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