McAllen Doctor Shares Views of Future for Diabetes

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MCALLEN – There is still no cure for diabetes. Doctors said getting patients to make lifestyle changes remains a challenge.

In the meantime, big strides are being made in the treatment and management of diabetes. One McAllen doctor shared what he sees for the future in the fight against diabetes.

Dr. Mahesh Changlani is a cardiologist with the Heart Institute at Renaissance.

He said when he first arrived, “I was almost shocked to see the incidence. The high prevalence of diabetes in the area, also striking is the young onset of age.”

Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Type 2 diabetes is the most common.

Dr. Changlani explained aside from genetics, challenges remain.

“It’s hard to motivate young people in 20s and 30s when we tell them go and exercise, go join a gym. Most say yes, but few do it,” he said.

Eating habits are hard to break too.

“Also cutting down of sugar intake and carbohydrate intake, especially raw sugar, I’m sometimes disappointed when I see a diabetic patient who’s young with a big cup of soda, which is many grams of sugar, and they drink that regularly several times a day. Those are the challenges we face in education,” he said.

As far as medications, combination drugs to treat diabetes have advantages.

“That’s one more step in cutting down the number of pills. Most diabetics have to take multiple medications, not for just diabetes but for cholesterol and blood pressure and things like that,” Dr. Changlani said.

The next big step in treatment is already in the works.

Right now, a person might be using all of the items in monitoring and managing their diabetes, but one day, all of this might be found in a device about the size of a penny.

“They are trying to incorporate a patch, which can detect sugar, release insulin appropriately. And if sugar goes low, it can release glucagon so there’s no danger of hypoglycemia or low sugar reaction,” Dr. Changlani said.

He said the research is for both Type 1 and Type 2.

For the future, Dr. Changlani sees more early aggressive treatment utilizing the latest methods to treat diabetes. He also is upfront with his patients telling them they are headed to many complications, unless they take charge and change their lifestyle.

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