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Diabetes Canada Guidelines 2018 - Complementary And Alternative Medicine

>> Friday, June 22, 2018

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Diabetes Canada Guidelines 2018 - Vaccinations

>> Friday, June 15, 2018





The 2018 Guidelines have expanded the vaccination chapter to now include recommendations for not only the flu shot and the pneumococcal vaccine, but also information regarding hepatitis B and shingles.


Key Messages For People With Diabetes:

You should receive routine vaccinations as recommended for anyone with or without diabetes.
Check if you are up to date with your vaccinations.

You should receive:
  • the flu shot, every year
  • the pneumococcal vaccine initially when you are over age 18; and again, when you are over age 65 IF your first vaccination was given under age 65 and it's been more than 5 years since you had it

It is now recognized that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of hepatitis B infection compared to people without diabetes.  Outbreaks can happen in places where there is assisted glucose monitoring if hygiene protocols are not adhered to - for example, there have been cases of outbreaks reported in long term care facilities.   The Guidelines do not officially recommend Hepatitis B vaccinations, but do go through some of the pros and cons to consider. 

Though the data is scarce, the existing information suggests that people with diabetes are at an increased risk of getting shingles (herpes zoster), which is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus.  The Diabetes Canada Guidelines list the recommendations for Canadians as a whole for shingles vaccination, with the point of making sure that people with diabetes are vaccinated according to these recommendations. 



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www.drsue.ca © 2018

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Diabetes Canada Guidelines 2018 - Driving Safety

>> Thursday, June 7, 2018





Yes, it’s finally here!  The Diabetes Canada Guidelines now has a full chapter dedicated to the important topic of driving safety in people with diabetes.  

Diabetes can affect driving performance because of the risk of low blood sugars with some medications (see below), because low blood sugars can delay reflexes, cause confusion, or loss of consciousness.  Complications of diabetes can also affect driving safety, including eye complications affecting vision; nerve complications (can affect sensory and/or muscle function); amputation;  and vascular disease (heart disease or history of stroke). 


Here are some of the Key Messages For People With Diabetes from this chapter: 

1. If you take insulin, or a diabetes medication that can cause low blood sugar [sulphonylureas: eg. gliclazide (Diamicron), glyburide; or meglitinides (repaglinide (Gluconorm)], check your blood sugar: 

  • immediately before driving
  • if you develop symptoms of low blood sugar while driving (pull over immediately in a safe location)
  • at least every 4 hours while driving, or more frequently if there are factors that may increase your risk of low blood sugar (eg recent activity, missing a meal)
  • at least every 2 hours while driving if you have a history of recurrent severe hypoglycemia or if you have hypoglycemia unawareness (you don't feel it when your sugars are low)
2.  Do not drive if your blood sugar is less than 4 mmol/L.  If your sugar is less than 4, do not start driving until you have ingested 15 grams of carbohydrate, retested, and blood sugar is at least 5.  Wait 40 minutes before driving as it takes time for judgement and reflexes to the brain to fully recover from a low blood sugar. 

An easy way to remember (it rhymes!): ABOVE 5 BEFORE YOU DRIVE


3.  If a low blood sugar develops while driving:
  • STOP the vehicle in a safe location
  • REMOVE the keys from the ignition
  • TREAT the low blood sugar and WAIT before driving again (see above)

4.  Always keep a glucose meter, supplies, and a source of fast acting carbohydrate (eg dextrose tabs) with you, and within easy reach, if you take any of the above medications or insulin.

5.  On longer journeys, take regular meals, snacks, and periods of rest.


There are also important messages about notifying your doctor and your driving licensing body if you've had severe hypoglycemia, frequency of assessments for fitness to drive, reporting procedures for health care professionals when patients have conditions that impair their driving abilities, and special considerations for commercial drivers.

For health care providers, there is also excellent information on how, when, and what needs to be assessed for fitness of people with diabetes to drive.  This includes a discussion of hypoglycemia risk, glycemic control, and assessment of diabetes complications to identify whether any of these factors could significantly increase the risk of a car accident for your patient.

This entire chapter is a must-read for any health care professional who has patients in their practice with diabetes treated with insulin, sulfonylureas, or meglitinides.


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www.drsue.ca © 2018

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Diabetes Canada Guidelines 2018 - Diabetes In Older People

>> Saturday, June 2, 2018






The goals of diabetes management in older people (defined by the Guidelines as about age 70 or older) is distinct from diabetes in younger people, especially for those who are frail or dependent on others for care.

One of the highest priorities in the older person with diabetes (as for all people with diabetes) is the avoidance of hypoglycemia (low blood sugars), which can be a side effect of some diabetes medications.  Older people are less likely to feel symptoms of low sugars, and their bodies are less able to respond to low sugars (due to reduced glucagon secretion), putting them at even higher risk of severe hypoglycemia.  

Many of the recommendations in this chapter of the 2018 Guidelines are focused on the principle of avoiding low sugars in older people with diabetes, upping the emphasis on this even above what was already stated in the last edition of the Guidelines.  

Here are some highlights from this chapter

NEW: There is now more guidance as to what A1C target may be considered, depending on a patient’s level of independence and frailty. 

The recommended targets for older people with diabetes are: 
  • Functionally independent: A1C 7% or less, premeal sugars 4-7 mmol/L, post meal 5-10
  • Functionally dependent: A1C less than 8%, premeal 5-8, post meal less than 12
  • Frail and/or with dementia: A1C less than 8.5%, premeal 6-9, post meal less than 14
  • End of life: avoid low sugars, and avoid symptomatic high sugars
The 2018 Guidelines continue to advise caution in using sulphonylureas in the elderly because of risk of hypoglycemia.  Now, there is a NEW Key Recommendation that DPP4 inhibitors should be used over sulphonlyureas because of a lower risk of hypoglycemia.

Other highlights from the Key Recommendations

NEW DETAILS: Functionally independent older people with diabetes who have a life expectancy of greater than 10 years should be treated to achieve the same glucose, BP and lipid targets as younger people with diabetes. 

NEW: BP targets should be individualized for older adults who are functionally dependent, or who have orthostasis, or who have a limited life expectancy.  (may wish to target a slightly higher BP than the usual target of less than 130/80)


NEW: In older people with type 2 diabetes with no other complex comorbidities but with clinical cardiovascular disease, and in whom glycemic targets are not met, consider a diabetes medication that decreases the risk of cardiovascular events (same as for the type 2 diabetes population in general, see here)


There are new Key Messages For Older People With Diabetes, which reflect the above points: that every older person with diabetes needs a customized diabetes care plan, and that your diabetes health care team will work with you to set blood sugar control targets, choose appropriate glucose lowering medication, and a program for screening and management of diabetes related complications. 

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www.drsue.ca © 2018

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Diabetes Canada Guidelines 2018 - Diabetes And Pregnancy

>> Friday, May 25, 2018





With no less than 42 (!) recommendations, this is the longest chapter in the 2018 Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines.  That's because there is a lot to say about management of not only diabetes predating pregnancy, but also gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops in pregnancy).

As a summary of this chapter is beyond the scope of a blog post due to its length,  I have picked out some of the key pearls to share here.


1.  Key Messages for women with diabetes who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy - this is a completely new section, and a must read not only for women with diabetes, but also women at risk for gestational diabetes.

2.  Contraception for women with diabetes is ESSENTIAL, until both the woman and her health care providers agree that she is safe and ready for pregnancy. There are many steps to be taken that must be in place before any attempts at pregnancy. This includes having good and stable blood sugar control, ensuring no unsafe medications are on board, vitamin supplementation, and eye checks.

3.  A1C target pre pregnancy should be 7% or less, and ideally 6.5% or less if it can be achieved safely (without low blood sugars).

4.  A1C target during pregnancy should be 6.5%, and ideally 6.1% or less if it can be achieved safely (without low blood sugars).

5.  Folic acid 1mg should be started 3 months pre pregnancy, and continued until at least 12 weeks of pregnancy (the 2013 Guidelines recommended more)

6.  Women on metformin or glyburide for type 2 diabetes with good control can continue these medications until pregnant.  Once pregnant, it is recommended to switch to insulin. (the previous guidelines recommended that all women with type 2 diabetes should be switched to insulin and stabilized on insulin prior to pregnancy). Metformin use during pregnancy in women with type 2 diabetes is currently under active study.

7.  Recommendations for appropriate weight gain in pregnancy are based on pre pregnancy BMI.

8.  Screening for gestational diabetes is recommended for all women at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, with the preferred method being a 50g glucose challenge as the initial test.  Women who are at increased risk of gestational diabetes should have blood testing for diabetes at the first pregnancy visit.

9. For women with gestational diabetes, testing for diabetes after pregnancy remains essential.

10.  New recommendations for fetal surveillance and timing of delivery are provided.

I emphasize again that there are many other changes and expansions of recommendations in this chapter of the guidelines - anyone practicing in this area of diabetes care is encouraged to embrace the chapter in its entirety.


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Diabetes Canada Guidelines 2018 - Physical Activity

>> Thursday, May 10, 2018




There is a ton of great, new information in the 2018 Diabetes Canada Physical Activity guidelines chapter.  Here are some of the highlights:


1. Avoid prolonged sitting. Try to get up briefly every 20 to 30 minutes.  Bluntly put, this is because we now know that habitual, prolonged sitting is associated with an increase risk of death and major cardiovascular events (eg heart attack).

2. While it is still recommended to engage in 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise and at least 2 sessions per week of resistance exercise if possible, it is now recognized that smaller amounts of activity still provides some health benefits. Something is better than nothing!

3.  Make use of strategies that increase motivation, such as setting specific physical activity goals, and using self monitoring tools (eg a pedometer that counts steps). (My editorial comment - some of these devices can also remind you to get up if you've been sitting for too long.)

4.  Medical clearance: It was previously recommended that anyone with diabetes who is about to begin a program more vigorous than walking should have medical clearance first.  This has been relaxed a little - now, this need for clearance is more focussed on middle aged and older people who wish to undertake prolonged or very vigorous exercise, and of course, anyone with symptoms suggestive of cardiovascular disease.

People with more advanced diabetic eye disease should be treated and stabilized before vigorous exercise, and people with severe diabetic nerve disease in their feet/legs should inspect their feet daily and wear appropriate footwear.   It is also recommended to ideally see a qualified exercise specialist before starting strength training (eg weights) to avoid injury.

5.  There is a great list of suggested strategies to help people with type 1 diabetes reduce the risk of lows with exercise.


Bonus Practical Stuff: 

Resources for people with diabetes: (scroll down to Exercise) - including info on how to plan and maintain physical activity, videos on resistance exercises, and more!

Resources for health care providers: under 'Management' - scroll down to 'Physical Activity and Diabetes' - tools including how to write an exercise prescription


Enjoy - and have fun!





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www.drsue.ca © 2018

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New 2018 Diabetes Canada Guidelines - Nutrition Therapy

>> Monday, May 7, 2018





It's hard to know how to eat right - there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and unfortunately lots of claims that have no scientific backing nor evidence of long term success.
Eating well with diabetes is no exception.

Thankfully, we have the Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines to give us evidence based recommendations on healthy eating with diabetes.

The updated Nutrition Therapy chapter in the 2018 Guidelines contains a lot of great information.   I really encourage interested readers to snuggle up with a cuppa to read the whole chapter, but let's go through some of the key points here:

1.  Nutrition therapy can reduce hemoglobin A1C (the diabetes report card) by 1-2% (that's as much as 1-2 diabetes medications!)

2.  The proportion of carbs vs protein vs fat should be flexible within the recommended ranges, and will depend on individual treatment goals and preferences.

3.  Eating low glycemic index foods instead of high glycemic index foods helps to improve diabetes control.

NEW: Aim for a fibre intake of 30-50g per day, with 10-20g coming from soluble fibre, to improve blood sugars and cardiovascular risk.

4.  Added sugars should be MAXIMUM 10% of total daily caloric intake.

5.  Intensive health behaviour interventions in people with type 2 diabetes can improve weight, fitness, diabetes control, and cardiovascular risk factors.

6. NEW: People with diabetes should be encouraged to choose the dietary patterns that best align with their values, preferences, and treatment goals. (check out the new sections on ethnocultural diversity in Canada, and on Ramadan, as well!)


Here are some of my favourite Key Messages For People With Diabetes: 

1.  Try to prepare more of your meals at home, using fresh and unprocessed ingredients.

2.  Prepare meals together and eat as a family. This is a good way to model healthy food behaviours to kids and teens, which can help reduce their risk of developing overweight or diabetes.

3.  The best strategy is one that you can maintain long term.

4.  With prediabetes and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, weight loss is the most important and effective dietary strategy if you have overweight or obesity.  A weight loss of 5-10% may help to normalize blood sugars.

5.  Diabetes friendly eating habits can improve blood sugars and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, including:

  • select whole foods instead of processed
  • avoid sugar sweetened beverages
  • pay attention to both carbohydrate quantity, and quality (low glycemic index instead of high)
  • considering learning how to count carbs
  • preferred dietary fats are unsaturated - maximum saturated fats has now been increased to 9% of total calorie intake (previously 7%) - and avoid trans fats completely
  • choose lean animal protein, and eat more vegetable protein


The data for many different diets/patterns of eating is reviewed, with many different types of diets being suggested for an improvement in type 2 diabetes control, including Mediterranean, vegetarian, and DASH diets, as well as diets that include pulses (eg beans), vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  The details of what is in these diets is provided in the chapter, and available data in type 1 diabetes is reviewed as well.  At the end of the day, the key is to choose a healthy way of eating that is in keeping with individual preferences, as this gives the greatest likelihood of being able to follow it long term.


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www.drsue.ca © 2018

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