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Interview with Heather Harpster about Diabetes

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Length 5:19

"Dave Kurten: The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Medical Center.  Mount Nittany, Life Forward.  November is American Diabetes Month and our guest is Heather Harpster, clinical dietician and diabetes educator.  Thanks for joining us today.

HEATHER HARPSTER: Glad to be here.

Dave Kurten: With November being diabetes month, let’s just start off by telling everybody what exactly is diabetes.

HEATHER HARPSTER: Well diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to produce or unable to properly use or store glucose which is another form of sugar.  When this happens, the glucose backs up in the bloodstream causing one’s blood-glucose or blood sugar to rise too high.

Dave Kurten: There are two different types of diabetes.  Explain the difference.

HEATHER HARPSTER: Well, with type II diabetes, the cells are often resistant to the insulin our body makes due to excess body weight and inactivity.  This insulin resistance makes it very hard for the glucose to enter the cells causing the sugar or glucose to back up in the bloodstream.  The primary aim of treatment for these individuals is lifestyle changes to help decrease the insulin resistance.  Type II diabetes usually occurs in older individuals; however, we are starting to see more and more children and adolescence being diagnose with type II diabetes because of our inactivity and poor dietary habits.  Now with type I diabetes, the pancreas stops making insulin or makes very little insulin.  This causes the sugar or the glucose to back up in the bloodstream very quickly.  These individuals must rely on an outside source of insulin to survive everyday.

Dave Kurten: Why should people be tested for diabetes?

HEATHER HARPSTER: It is very important for anyone at risk of developing type II diabetes be tested regularly so that it can be caught early.  If we find that someone has either mildly elevated blood sugar levels, they can start to make simple lifestyle changes, including healthier food choices, smaller portions and increased activity which can help prevent or delay the onset of the type II diabetes. 

Dave Kurten: Who should be tested and how often?

HEATHER HARPSTER: All individuals with any of the risk factors for type II diabetes including a family history of diabetes, anyone from a high risk ethnicity such as African American, Hispanic-Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander, anyone who is fairly inactive, anyone with a history of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure or cholesterol abnormalities or any woman who has had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds should be screened for type II diabetes.  If those values come back normal, an individual should be rescreened every three years. 

Dave Kurten: What type of programs does Mount Nittany Medical Center offer those with type diabetes?

HEATHER HARPSTER: We offer “Dining with Diabetes” classes, which is a collaboration between Mount Nittany Medical Center and Penn State Cooperative Extension.  In these classes, participants learn about healthier food options and actually get the opportunity to prepare and taste several different recipes throughout the class series.  These classes are offered three times a year.  We also have a diabetes support group which provides support and encouragement for anyone interested in talking about diabetes.  This group meets the second Thursday of every month.  And aside from all the group activities that we have at the hospitals, we do offer appointments with a diabetes educator or a registered dietician.

Dave Kurten: In honor of American Diabetes Month, what activities is Mount Nittany Medical Center holding in November?       

HEATHER HARPSTER: To kick off diabetes month, Mount Nittany Medical Center is hosting “A Night of Diabetes Fun” on November 1st from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM in the Nancy Dreibelbis Auditorium.  From 5:30 PM to 6:15 PM, our executive chef Gary Glenn will be demonstrating a few diabetes-friendly recipes with a taste testing to follow.  From 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM, Melinda Marnyiuk from the Joslin Diabetes Center will speak on the topic “A Common Bond: Diabetes Around the World, Progress and Challenges.”  And A1C testing will also be offered throughout the entire evening for anyone who would like to know their number or risk of developing diabetes.  This will start at about 4:30 PM in the evening.  On November 4th, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Mount Nittany Medical Center is sponsoring a “Diabetes Non-Stop Walk.”  Participants are encouraged to walk the mile course around the medical center and pledge a commitment to a month of regular physical activity with a goal of 150 minutes a week.  Registration will be held at the Nancy Dreibelbis Auditorium.  On November 14th for World Diabetes Day, Mount Nittany Medical Center will join organizations around the world to light their buildings blue to raise awareness for diabetes locally and globally.  And from November 1st to November 14th, Mount Nittany Medical Center in collaboration with WJAC News is sponsoring a Healthy Diabetes Recipe Contest.  Anyone interested in participating can submit their recipes online. 

Dave Kurten: Where can people get more information about diabetes and the diabetes programs provided at Mount Nittany Medical Center?

HEATHER HARPSTER: More information on any of the diabetes programs or any information in relation to diabetes, please visit our website at www.mountnittany.org or by calling the Diabetes Education Department at area code (814) 231-7095. 

Dave Kurten: Heather Harpster, clinical dietician and diabetes educator at Mount Nittany Medical Center has been our guest of this edition of the Medical Minute, thank you for your time.

HEATHER HARPSTER: Thanks, you’re welcome.

Dave Kurten: The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Medical Center.  Mount Nittany, Life Forward."  


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