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Doctor Diaries: People with diabetes may outlive and have a healthier life than those without diabetes.- Dr. V Mohan

M3 India Newsdesk Nov 14, 2018

 Dr. V Mohan, a celebrated diabetology expert. Here, he writes about one of his patients who at 98 years is a fitting testament to the fact that it is possible to live a healthy and fulfilling life despite having diabetes!

The diagnosis of diabetes is often received with fear and anxiety. The moment a diagnosis of the disorder is made, people begin to fear the worst. To start with, they think they would never be able to eat their favorite foods again. ‘No more gulab jamun and rasgulla for me.' Some think: 'What is a life without sweets worth? 

Others believe that a diagnosis of diabetes is like a death sentence and that their life will be cut short by diabetes. In the course of a series of stories of real people with diabetes, I have treated, I wish to dispel some of these myths regarding diabetes and highlight some of the success stories.

One person I would like to talk to you about is a well-known educationist of our country. He was diagnosed to have diabetes when he was 40 years old. Ever since that time, he was initially treated by my father, Prof. M. Viswanathan, considered as the ‘Father of Diabetology’ in India.

After a few years, he came under my care and I have had the good fortune of treating him for the last several decades. This gentleman has been following a disciplined life throughout. He has been reasonably careful with his diet, exercises fairly regularly, and has adopted a positive attitude toward life.

Most importantly, he came regularly for his checkups because he knew that it is very easy for one’s diabetes to slip out of control. He not only kept his diabetes under control but all his other related parameters. He also took his medicines regularly.

What was the result of all this?

Today, at the age of 98 years, as I write this piece, he has lived for 58 years with diabetes. He does not have any of the complications of diabetes. He is fit and healthy and his memory is razor sharp. He recently presided over a function held at our centre.

When we were students, we were taught that for every year of diabetes, one year is added to the ‘chronological age’ and that represents the true ‘biological age’. For eg., if somebody is 50 years old and has 30 years of diabetes, his or her biological age is 80 and the arteries are supposed to be 80 years old. If we apply this rule to this gentleman as his present age is 98 and he has 58 years of diabetes, this means his arteries and his biological age are 156 years!

This just shows that there are always exceptions to any rule. While some of you may say, that this is just an isolated case, I would like to tell you that we have seen over 350 patients who are above 90 years of age and doing well. This gives us hope that the day is not far off when people with diabetes can live to over 100 years of age!

In fact, it may be fair to state that people with diabetes may outlive and have a healthier life than those without diabetes. How is this possible?

This is because they are careful with their diet, they exercise, and they decrease stress. They also go to see the doctor regularly and therefore have a regular checkup of all the systems. One might think that this exceptional patient lived so long because he used the costliest medicines and treatment, and what about the common man who may not be able to do so.

Let me tell you, that 50 years ago when he was diagnosed to have diabetes, there were only two types of drugs available in our country. One was the sulphonylurea group of tablets and other metformin. Both are the most inexpensive medicines that one can use for diabetes. Almost throughout his life, he continued to use these medicines and hence it is not due to using the latest or costliest medicines that people are able to live a long and healthy life, but because of their discipline.

Let us not forget that diabetes is primarily a lifestyle disorder and medicines only play a secondary role. People like the gentleman I refer to in this article are ‘role models’.

Doctor Diaries is M3 India's new blog section where we encourage our doctor members to share stories and anecdotes from their professional lives that may have made a deep personal impact. If you have a story to tell, write down your story and the lessons it left you with and share with us on email at editor@m3india.in. We will give it the audience that it deserves. Read more about Doctor Diaries here.

Click the link below to watch Dr. V. Mohan speak about precision diabetes. This is a recorded webinar conducted by M3 India on Oct 12th, 2018.


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