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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 22, 2004

UI Program Can Help Ward Off Diabetes In The New Year

Pre-diabetes -- when your body can only partially control its blood glucose -- puts you at a 50 percent higher risk for heart disease and stroke. You might be one of the 1.4 million Iowans (half the state's population) at increased risk for pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes because of age, obesity or sedentary lifestyle.

In the Iowa City area, people can schedule tests and, if appropriate, enroll in "Reaching Euglycemia and Comprehensive Health" (REACH), a University of Iowa Health Care exercise and lifestyle intervention program designed to ward off diabetes. The next session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday evenings Jan. 18 through March 10. The enrollment deadline is Jan. 14.

REACH helps individuals normalize their blood sugar (reach euglycemia). Free fasting glucose screenings are available for people to learn if the program is right for them. Call UI Health Access toll-free at 800-777-8442 or 384-8442 locally to set up a screening. In addition, participants will need to have an exercise evaluation by the REACH program before the first class date.

Overweight people age 45 and older, as well as overweight people under age 45 with the risk factors listed below, are particularly encouraged to be tested. The eight-week program also welcomes people with known diabetes risk factors who are hesitant to start an exercise program because of chronic problems, such as arthritis. Exercise routines are individualized to each person's needs and physical condition. The program fee is $265.

The REACH team -- a nurse, a psychologist, a physical therapist, a dietitian and a physician -- provide counseling, expert advice, exercise evaluation and exercise sessions. The bi-weekly educational and exercise classes help participants reverse the trend toward diabetes.

For more information about enrolling in the REACH diabetes prevention program, call 319-356-2663, extension 3. Information also is available online at

"We know that pre-diabetes does not have to lead to diabetes," said Rhonda Barr, UI physical therapist with the REACH team. "With support and commitment to making some lifestyle changes, people with pre-diabetes can reward themselves with a longer, healthier life. However, if a person with pre-diabetes doesn't make changes, they usually develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years."

With Type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin but does not respond well to it. Left untreated or inadequately controlled, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and infections in addition to heart disease and stroke.

People are more likely to develop pre-diabetes and diabetes if they have any of these risk factors:
-- family members with diabetes
-- overweight (20 percent or more over optimal weight or a Body Mass Index of 25 of higher)
-- physically inactive (exercise fewer than three times weekly)
-- high blood pressure (equal to or over 140/90)
-- abnormal cholesterol levels: low HDL (the "good" cholesterol) and high triglycerides
-- of Native American, Latino, Pacific Islander, Asian-American or African-American descent
-- history of diabetes during pregnancy or giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds; or having polycystic ovarian syndrome (an endocrine condition)

As with all medical decisions, it is best to consult with your physician before making any changes to your health care routine.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

PROGRAM CONTACT: REACH, 319-356-2663, ext. 3.

MEDIA ONLY: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660,