Dr. Jane Ballantine, the medical
director for the Calgary West
Central Primary Care Network. She
has a special interest in diabetes.
About five per cent of people
with diabetes have Type 1, which
generally develops in childhood
Type 2 diabetes is far more common
and occurs when the body can’t
properly use the insulin it produces
(called insulin resistance) or makes
less insulin than the body needs.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops in
adults, but can also affect children.
Being overweight or having obesity
are two major risk factors for
developing this kind of diabetes.
“Its incidence also increases
with increasing patient age,”
Dr. Ballantine adds.
Type 2 diabetes can often be
managed through physical activity
and meal planning; if the disease
is more severe, it may also require
medication, including insulin, to
control blood sugar.
A third form of diabetes is
gestational diabetes, a temporary
condition that can occur
understanding the disease
Many people also have prediabetes,
which is higher than normal blood
sugar levels, but not high enough
to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes.
The condition increases the risk of
developing Type 2, although the
disease can be prevented, or at the
very least delayed, with healthy
eating and active living.
“A loss of five to 10 per cent
of body weight can go a long
way to helping manage diabetes
as well as many other health
conditions,” says Dr. Ballantine.
Living with diabetes involves
constantly trying to keep blood
sugar levels stable. It can be
difficult: stress, eating habits,
physical activity and the amount
of insulin administered all affect
blood sugar levels.
Both high and low blood sugar
levels can lead to serious and even
These include heart attack, stroke,
kidney failure, blindness and nerve
damage leading to amputation.
Diabetes can also contribute to
depression and anxiety.
High blood pressure, high
cholesterol and excess fat around
the waist pose additional risks
for diabetes. Risk factors are also
higher in some populations, such
as Indigenous peoples.
Your medical home
If you have or want to determine any
risk factors, or wish to be screened
for diabetes, your PCN healthcare
team is ready to support you. Talk
with your doctor about detecting
diabetes, especially if you’re age
40 or older.
Your PCN can offer customized
resources to help you develop a
healthy diet and active routine.
The focus is on making a plan that
works for you. Better still, your
PCN team can help you avoid
When properly managed, diabetes
won’t stand in your way to a full
and healthy life.
All PCNs and Alberta Health
Services have programs to support
for chronic disease management
including diabetes. Many community
pharmacists also have additional
knowledge about diabetes.
WRITTEN BY COLLEEN SETO
PHOTO BY TRUDIE LEE HARDER