Aging faster with diabetes - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Aging faster with diabetes

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Diabetics need to be part of a good educational program so they know how to prevent premature aging. Diabetics need to be part of a good educational program so they know how to prevent premature aging.

Even a "health nut" will lose about 10 percent of their "aerobic ability" every decade after age 40.

But for a diabetic there is an extra toll on the cardiovascular system, making them look even older.

April Jackson defies the odds. Although diabetic, she eats right and exercises.

"I was diagnosed at age 13 in the 1980s. So, things were a little different for diabetes back then. My mom had to totally change the way she cooked, the way we ate," she said.

She's now a registered nurse, working at her physician-husband's practice and counseling other diabetics. 

But it is knowing how to be prepared that leads April to help other diabetics.

"People with diabetes do age faster, our organs age faster," Jackson added. As we age, diabetes can affect many different aspects of our health, including our sight."

April's husband, Dr. Kirk Jackson, is an internal medicine specialist. 

"The biggest risk, of course, is heart attack and stroke. It also affects the eyesight, though [and] it affects the kidneys. It can cause a patient eventually to be on dialysis," he said.

While this study was done at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Dr. Jackson said similar studies were done here in Alabama.

"It kind of goes back to trials they did in the 90s. They looked down in Birmingham. They looked at the last 20,000 mi's...myocardial infarctions, heart attacks that occurred," he added.

Dr. Jackson said the risk of a diabetic having a heart attack is the same as a non-diabetic who has already had at least one heart attack.

That's why April counsels other diabetics to take control of their health. 

"But getting up, getting moving, getting yourself in doing all these things, exercising going to the doctor and getting the regular checkups will prevent all that," she said.

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