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Real Men Wear Gowns: Pre-diabetes study hopes to ward off diabetes early

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Texas and the fourth leading cause of death in Bexar County.

Right now there is no cure for diabetes but doctors at University Health System are in the midst of a diabetes prevention study for those who are pre-diabetic.

"Diabetes is very prevalent in the population, but for every diabetic that we find there are probably about two or three pre-diabetics," said Dr. Alberto Chavez-Velasquez, an endocrinologist with the Texas Diabetes Institute and associate professor at UT Health San Antonio.

He also says that catching diabetes before it sets in is imperative.

"It's very important to be able to find people early, to be able to help them, because once diabetes begins, there is no prevention. It's all treatment," Dr. Chavez-Velasquez explained.

"Most of the patients with diabetes have a significant risk of a cardiovascular disease, 80 percent of those patients die from myocardial infarctions, death associated with stroke, congestive heart failure," said Dr. Eugenio Cersosimo, the medical director of clinical research at the Texas Diabetes Instititue.

Dr. Cersosimo added that starting diabetes medication in the pre-diabetes stage could be the key to keeping diabetes away.

"The need for medication has become apparent,” Dr. Cersosimo noted. “There are certain medications, and some of them new, some of them old medications that we use to treat diabetes. If started earlier on, they can prevent the progression of the disease.”

The pre-diabetes study that is currently underway follows individuals who take one pill a day for two years. The medications used in the study are already approved for Type 2 diabetes. But with this study that is unique to University Health System, doctors hope to save lives by using those medications in pre-diabetics.

"The novelty of this study is actually the ability to generate knowledge that hopefully is going to change the way we treat pre-diabetes in the future,” Dr. Chaves-Velasquez said.

If you think you could be pre-diabetic and would like to take part in the pre-diabetes study, or any other diabetes-related study, call the Texas Diabetes Institute at 210-358-7200.

For more men's health information call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of our Real Men Wear Gowns stories at WearTheGown.com.