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Book Review: Living With Diabetes

I recently received a book for review. Living With Diabetes: A Guide For Patients and Parents by James W Reed, M.D., M.A.C.P., F.A.C.E.; and Agiua Heath, M.D.. I had my Dr. of Pharmacy candidate James Wengard review the book. James can offer great feedback as he just spent the last 4 weeks living as an insulin dependent diabetes patient. To read his review and see why you may want to recommend this book to your patients, go here

Book Review: Living With Diabetes
James Wengard, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate University of Florida College of Pharmacy 

Reed, James W, M.D., M.A.C.P., F.A.C.E.; Heath, Agiua, M.D.  Living With Diabetes: A Guide For Patients and Parents.  Chicago: Hilton Publishing, 2005.

Reed and Heath describe the life of type 2 diabetics and the importance of blood glucose control as well as prevention of complications.  The main goal of the authors is to improve the patients’ understanding of diabetes, and provide information to develop better disease management.  Despite several discrepancies, the use of good organization, appropriate terminology, and coverage of a broad array of topics make this book a good source of information for diabetes patients and their loved ones.

Several qualities make this book enjoyable.  The authors organized this book very well.  They start out by describing normal physiology and gradually progress to an explanation of the causes and classifications of diabetes.  After establishing a foundation of what exactly diabetes is, the authors build upon that foundation with many other aspects of the disease.  A helpful tool used to aid the reader in remembering important facts, consisted of a list of “key points” at the end of each chapter.  Living With Diabetes is written with the expectation that the reader will be an everyday diabetes patient.  The use of layman’s terminology makes the complicated disease state very simple to understand, and little medical jargon is used.  At the beginning of each chapter, the authors start with a different scenario involving a problem that diabetics commonly deal with.  The use of this illustrative technique gives the reader a better understanding because he/she can relate to a “real life” situation. 

This book covers a number of relevant topics of diabetes ranging from the basics, such as pathophysiology and common complications, to less common topics that can assist patients in their overall care.  A thorough explanation of diet and exercise is provided.  There is also a section in the back of the book that is dedicated to healthy recipes.  Some less common topics include coping with the emotional effects of being diagnosed, working with health care providers, and the details of preparing for pregnancy as a diabetic woman.  These less common topics can be very helpful and are frequently overlooked.

There are several things in this book with which I do not agree.  First of all, the diagnostic values listed for diabetes and pre-diabetes are inconsistent.  On page 8 and 9, the only listed diagnostic criteria that is correct according to the ADA guidelines, is the fasting blood sugar ≥ 126 mg/dLThe authors claim that pre-diabetes is defined as a fasting blood glucose between 60 and 100 mg/dL.  The true definition is a fasting blood glucose between 100 and 125 mg/dL.  These diagnostic discrepancies could cause confusion for readers.  I also disagree with the authors’ recommendation to use the DASH diet.  This diet was designed for hypertension, and happens to be high in carbohydrates.  High carbohydrate meals cause blood sugars to skyrocket.  Finally, the authors briefly and incorrectly, address insulin pumps.  They claim that insulin pumps “utilize a needle that has been surgically put into your abdomen”.  That statement is excessively outdated, and can cause patients to be fearful and unwilling to consider insulin pump therapy.  Surgical insertion is a technique that was in use many years ago.  For years now, insulin pump patients have been using a small infusion set consisting of an adhesive ring and a Teflon cannula for subcutaneous insertion.  I have personally used 3 different insulin pumps during my endocrinology rotation and they are not nearly as bad as they are made out to be.  The authors also suggest that insulin pumps would not be beneficial to Type 2 diabetics because they make their own insulin.  In my experience during clerkships, I have witnessed a number of Type 2 patients gain control of their blood glucose using insulin pumps after years of uncontrolled blood sugars during which times they were using oral medications and/or insulin injections.

In conclusion, Living With Diabetes is a book that can provide diabetes patients and their loved ones a good basic understanding of their disease.  Although it is targeted toward the African-American community, people of any race or ethnic background can benefit from its message.  However, I recommend for anyone interested in this book, to be aware of the discrepancies that I have listed about diagnosis, diet, and insulin pumps.  If you want to learn more about diabetes, ask your physician to set you up with a reputable diabetes educator, and do not use this book as your only source of diabetes information.

To purchase this book click here