Home Lifestyle McLeod Family Medicine physician offers a lesson in diabetes

McLeod Family Medicine physician offers a lesson in diabetes

CHERAW, S.C. — Diabetes is a health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. Most of the food one eats breaks down into sugar, also known as glucose, and then it is released into the bloodstream. As the blood sugar elevates, the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin allows the blood sugar into the body’s cells to use as energy.

For patients with diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin or does not use the insulin that has been made correctly. With either of these problems this means too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream. Over time, this can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, vision loss, or kidney disease.

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Approximately five to ten percent who have diabetes have type 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is usually diagnosed in children, teens and young adults. Anyone with type 1 will need to take insulin every day to survive.

With type 2, the body doesn’t use insulin well and cannot keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90 to 95 percent of patients with diabetes have type 2. Many don’t experience symptoms, so it is important to get your blood sugar tested if you are at risk. Type 2 can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes.

Also, in the United States, the has determined that more than one in three adults have prediabetes. Of those, 84 percent are not even aware they have it. Prediabetes means the blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2. Prediabetes raises your risk for type 2, heart disease and stroke. The good news is prediabetes can be reversed with healthy lifestyle changes. 


Control your blood pressure.  High blood pressure is common among people with diabetes. It makes the heart work harder than it should.  Weight loss and exercise are important tools for controlling blood pressure. If diet and exercise alone do not lower blood pressure to a safe number, medication might be necessary.

Eat foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.  Too much sodium can raise blood pressure to an unhealthy level, which increases the risk for heart disease. And, simply holding the salt at the dinner table is not enough.  Packaged foods and many restaurant meals are also high in sodium.  Meals like these should be a treat and not the rule.


A good heart-healthy diet should eliminate any trans fats and limit saturated fats. Trans fats are typically artificial and are added to processed foods to maintain their shelf life.  Saturated fats are found mostly in meat, full-fat dairy, butter, and coconut and palm oils. These fats are not good for heart health so be selective about what meat you eat choosing lean meats such as skinless chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin or fish. 

Stop smoking.  Smoking is one of the major risk factors associated with heart attack and stroke.  It is an even more dangerous habit for people with diabetes due to the damage it causes the blood vessels.  Diabetics who smoke also double their risk for heart disease.

Take medication as directed.  It is important that medication be taken as directed by your physician. Contact your physician if any of the directions are unclear to you.

In addition to caring for patients at McLeod Primary Care Cheraw, Dr. Susan Robins serves as the site director and associate program director for the McLeod Family Medicine Rural Residency Program in Cheraw.  

In the rural residency program, resident physicians train in the Family Medicine specialty, under the close supervision of physician faculty. They provide care for the entire family from delivering babies to end-of-life care, including pediatrics, women and men’s health, and obstetrics. Dr. Robins oversees the resident physicians who provide primary care services for the patients at McLeod Primary Care Cheraw working in conjunction with Dr. Garrett Barton and Jackie Stafford, DNP. Same or next day appointments are available.

Board certified in Family Medicine, Dr. Robins is accepting new patients. Appointments can be made by calling 843-537-2171.

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