Diabetes Day 2018

Save the date for next year! Our 10th annual Diabetes Day will be held on Spring Equinox; Tuesday, March 20th, 2018! Please RSVP for the event below!

About The Event

  • Free Health Screenings, including a free A1C test!
  • Cooking Demonstrations with free tastings
  • Lecture Panel featuring OVH’s new Endocrinologist
  • Educational sessions and lectures
  • Free samples and gift card raffles
  • Vendor booths with diabetes supplies and services
  • Free Parking!

*Speakers and topics are subject to change. Please check back for updates!


Click HERE to visit our Diabetes Day webpage to view all of the expected vendors and sponsors for this year’s event!

9th Annual Diabetes Day!

Our 9th Annual Diabetes Day is happening on Tuesday, March 28, 2017! Please RSVP for the event below!

About The Event

  • Free Health Screenings, including a free A1C test!
  • Cooking Demonstrations with free tastings
  • Educational sessions and lectures
  • Free samples and gift card raffles
  • Vendor booths with diabetes supplies and services
  • Free Parking!

2017 Tentative Diabetes Day Speakers* and Topics

9:00-9:45 a.m.: Dr. Richard Bowers – “Diabetes and the Eye: 2017”

9:45-10:30 a.m.: Trevor Scott, Clinical Pharmacist – “Current and Emerging Treatments of Diabetes”

10:15 a.m.: First Round Door Prize Announcements!

10:30-11:15 a.m.: Dr. Linda Belayev – “Diabetic Nephropathy: The link between Diabetes and Kidney Disease”

11:15 a.m.-12 noon: Dr. Monica Chopra, – “Common Diabetes Questions Answered”

12noon-12:15 p.m.: Door Prize Announcements!

12:15-12:45 p.m.: Thomas DeGori – Lively food demonstration with Healthy Foods

12:45-1:00 p.m.: Rachel Chen, Dietetic Intern – “Portion Distortion”

*Speakers and topics are subject to change. Please check back for updates!


Click HERE to visit our Diabetes Day webpage to view all of the expected vendors and sponsors for this year’s event!

Diabetes & The Holidays: Preparing for the Season of Treats Overload

Halloween marked the beginning of a couple of treat-saturated months.  Although the upcoming holidays mean delicious treats for all, they can also bring on several challenges. This is especially true for people with customized diets, such as diabetics.

Diabetes friendly Thanksgiving dinner
Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, making upcoming holiday meals a real concern for many. Fortunately, just a little planning can make all the difference during a food-heavy holiday. Susan Zikos, the Diabetes Educator here at Ohio Valley Hospital, shares her three most important tricks tips for people with diabetes to keep in mind when entering the holiday season.

1. Be picky about what you eat.

Your eyes might be telling you to take a scoop of each dish available at Thanksgiving dinner, but Susan tells us to only choose the foods you truly want. “Eat slowly and let yourself really enjoy the foods that you may only have once a year,” she says.  “Pay attention to your stomach and give yourself a chance to feel full. Remember, it takes 20 minutes to feel full, so take your time.” In other words, indulging at a fast pace will only make you feel sick, and you won’t be able to fully appreciate the meal.

If the holiday lunch or dinner will be served around the time you regularly eat those meals, try to eat the same amount of carbohydrates you normally would. However, if you want to try a dessert, cut back on any other carbohydrate-heavy foods you may eat – such as bread – during the main course. And take smaller portions, since there will likely be more foods to choose from.

2. Stay active.

One reason we have problems managing diabetes and weight during the holidays is our lack of physical activity, coupled with an increased availability of foods and social interactions.

(don’t forget; alcoholic drinks have calories too!).  With so many indulgences around us, Susan says keeping physical activity a priority throughout the holiday season is a must. “We need to make time for activities, whether window shopping, sledding with the children, taking the dog for a walk, or just getting out in the fresh air,” she explains. “Even cleaning up after a meal counts as moving around. Also remember that a gym membership is an excellent, heart-healthy present!”

3. Get enough sleep.

If you go out more often and stay out later during the holidays, you may get less sleep, Susan warns. “Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar,” she states. “And when you’re sleep deprived, you’ll tend to eat more, and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night to guard against mindless eating.”

If you’re someone with diabetes or if you have a similarly restrictive diet, keeping in mind these three very important tips will ensure you enjoy the holiday season and still maintain your health.  Susan likes to remind people that this time of year is about more than just food and treats. “The holidays are about connecting with family and friends, not about eating everything you can!”

Need some extra support during the holidays? Join our Diabetes Support Group, attend one of our Living Well with Diabetes events, or feel free to contact Susan for more information at szikos@ohiovalleyhospital.org!

Diabetes, The Body And The Mind

Diabetes is one of the biggest public health issues our country currently faces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of 2014, 29.1 million people – or 9.3% of the population – are living with diabetes. That’s 1 in 11 of us! And that number continues to climb every year.

At Ohio Valley Hospital, our staff takes the threat of diabetes very seriously. One staff member who’s committed to helping patients prevent, manage and live with the disease is Susan Zikos, RN, LDN; the Certified Diabetes Educator at Ohio Valley Hospital. Part of her job is to provide nutritional counseling for people who have diabetes. Before joining our staff, Ms. Zikos worked with diabetic patients at a rehabilitation hospital in Western Pennsylvania.

The very nature of her prior job meant she saw many patients dealing with diabetic foot ulcers, wounds, and amputations – all consequences of this chronic illness. Ms. Zikos notes these types of stories should hit close to home not just for her, but for many people.

“I doubt there are more than a handful of us who do not know a diabetic person,” Ms. Zikos says. “Some keep their condition secret, because they don’t want to be thought of as different, or sick. But believe me, diabetes is a huge problem in the United States. The really sad part is that of those 29.1 million diabetics, 25% do not even know that they are diabetic.”

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

According to Ms. Zikos, this 25% can go five to ten years without knowing they have diabetes – and therefore, without taking any steps to control it. Unfortunately, in these cases, patients miss out on valuable chances to control their condition, and often require even more medical intervention and treatment than they might have if they received a diagnosis sooner.

As a result, the price tag of treating and managing diabetes is staggering. According to the American Diabetes Association, “The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 is $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.”

Unfortunately, these financial costs of dealing with diabetes are just the beginning.

Diabetes And The Mind

People with diabetes also pay a price in the form of a decline in their health. Until recently, the most well known possible complications of diabetes included heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage. Now, research is highlighting another dangerous side effect of living with diabetes: a decline in mental health, or cognitive functions.

It wasn’t that we didn’t know diabetes could affect our minds; research had previously shown that blood glucose levels could damage the blood vessels in our brains, increasing a patient’s chances of eventually developing dementia. Now, however, researchers are discovering some patients may feel the mental effects of diabetes quite rapidly. In fact, the most recently published study states people with Type 2 diabetes demonstrate a decline in cognitive skills and ability to perform daily activities over the course of only two years. Researchers say this decrease in cognitive function can include delayed response times and an inability to remember things clearly or quickly.

Why? In a diabetic’s brain, blood vessels can’t move as freely, and have difficulty controlling the flow of blood and oxygen in the brain. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to find a treatment for this potential side effect – not even eating right or taking your insulin can fully prevent this.

So does this research mean that it’s time to panic for diabetics? Not necessarily, says Ms. Zikos.

“When I first heard [about the study], my thoughts [went to] the many 70 and 80 year old diabetics whom I have counseled who are sharp and living on their own, and doing quite well,” she notes.

“Studies might very well show some greater decline in diabetics than others. But I believe that the vast majority of these people will continue to have more than enough intellect to last them their entire lives.”

Diabetes Management At OVH

Ms. Zikos also emphasizes that while she has worked with patients who have avoided the worst of the potential effects of living with diabetes, the condition can still be extremely serious, and requires diligent and ongoing management.

“The reality is that the high blood glucose levels of uncontrolled diabetes do affect every part of the body from the brain down to the toes,” she says.

“Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, which hurts the heart and blood vessels. High blood sugar causes inflammation. This may damage brain cells and help Alzheimer’s to develop. Damaged blood vessels in the brain may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. These changes may help trigger Alzheimer’s disease.”

So how can diabetics – and patients working to prevent diabetes – avoid these dangerous side effects?

“What I would suggest to everyone, not just diabetics, is to maintain a normal weight, eat healthy foods, and exercise daily to have the healthiest life possible,” says Ms. Zikos. “And don’t worry about things over which you have no control.”

If you are currently living with diabetes, or even taking steps to avoid developing this illness, our experts at OVH will be happy to work with you to make the improvements in your lifestyle you need to make.

We also offer assistance with our Living Well with Diabetes program, which is accredited by the American Diabetes Association and provides self-management training through individual consultations, group education classes, and support group meetings.

To speak with us and to learn more about our Living Well programming, please call 412-777-6205!

Celebrating Diabetes Day at Ohio Valley Hospital

Eight million: That’s the number of Americans currently living with undiagnosed diabetes. The number of people who are diagnosed? 21 million. That means if you were to ride a 747 aircraft, there would be around 40 diabetics on your flight. If you looked at the person to your right, there would be a 2 percent chance they were an undiagnosed diabetic.

If you looked at yourself instead, those chances would be the same.

When it comes to preventing any illness, awareness is key. That’s why Tuesday, March 24, is known nationwide as the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Alert Day. It’s a one-day “wake-up call” urging Americans to take a Diabetes Risk Test to see if they are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Ohio Valley Hospital is taking part in this Alert Day by hosting our 7th annual Diabetes Day. Please join us! From 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at our Josephine Rozetta Auditorium in the School of Nursing, we’ll be hosting 4 hours of diabetes-related events for the community. Throughout Diabetes Alert Day at OVH, you’ll see:

  • Vendors distributing diabetes supplies and information, such as glucose level log books, drinks formulated for diabetics (trust us, they taste great!), and diabetic shoes;
  • A diabetes-friendly cooking demonstration led by OVH’s Food Services Director, Jim Dixon – and yes, free samples will be distributed afterward!;
  • A series of lectures on issues related to diabetes, featuring OVH staff and other organizations;
  • Blood pressure, blood sugar, body fat analysis and bone density screenings; and,
  • A $30 Health Check Blood Screen that includes 39 different tests, including A1C.

The hemoglobin A1C test is a laboratory diagnostic service used to determine an individual’s average blood sugar levels over the last 2-3 months and their risk of diabetes. Please make sure to fast for 10-12 hours to make your blood screen results as accurate as possible. You do not need to fast for an accurate A1C reading. If you do not fast on that day, we can offer you a coupon for getting the blood screen done with the A1C test at one of our labs during normal office hours!

We’ll also be holding a raffle with prizes throughout the day!

And of course, OVH staff will be available to discuss all the great services for diabetics available at the hospital, including representatives from Pathways at The Willows, The Willow Brook Geropsychiatric Unit, and the Wound Care Center.

OVH’s Outpatient Dietitian and Diabetes Educator, Susan Zikos, RD, LDN, CDE, who has been our champion for our Diabetes Day this year, sees the event as a great opportunity for the community’s diabetics and non-diabetics alike to get real information about what it’s like to live with the disease. Specifically, she notes that treating diabetes now is much different than it was in decades past. Today, there’s a wide array of new products and therapies that the general public might not be familiar with.

“Especially with the older population, many see it as a death sentence,” she says. “It can be stressful for them to be diagnosed as diabetics themselves. But today, diabetics tend to be diagnosed much earlier than they were before, and can make changes to lessen the progression of diabetes.”

In 2015, living a healthy, comfortable lifestyle as a diabetic is much more attainable than it used to be. Zikos notes that one of the main goals of the event is to encourage lifestyle choices that promote good diabetic health: “We really just want to get people out there, exercising within their abilities, taking their medicines as directed, and eating properly.”

At OVH, Zikos offers outpatient nutrition and weight loss counseling to patients with diabetes and other conditions. She also runs a series of classes aimed at helping new diabetics understand their condition and a diabetes support group that meets throughout the year. Check out the full schedule of classes in her brochure.

For more information on these programs, please call (412) 777-6205.

Click here to learn more about American Diabetes Association Alert Day. 

Kick Off National Nutrition Month With Some Healthy Food Tips!


March is National Nutrition Month. It’s a great time to kick-start healthy eating habits! There’s a LOT of information out there, with varying opinions as to what makes up a “healthy” diet. Many people even try some of the “fad” diets: ones that restrict carbs or gluten, or allow you to eat as much fat as you want, or only let you fill up on cabbage soup!

You may think that these fad diets are a relatively new phenomenon, but according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, they’ve been around since at least 1820. The first “low-carb” diet appeared on the scene in 1825! Click here for a timeline of some of the more popular “fad” diets out there!

So what SHOULD you be eating? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has prepared a Nutrition Fact vs. Fiction sheet to help you decide! For example, did you know that canned fruits and veggies are just as nutritious-and in some cases can even be BETTER for you than fresh produce? Click on this link on this link to find out why!

If you’re interested in making some healthy changes, you can head to our 6th annual Diabetes Day on Tuesday, March 25th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in OVGH’s School of Nursing building. It’s an event that is not just about treating diabetes, it’s about making a healthier lifestyle for yourself! There will be food demonstrations, lectures, and free health screenings. Click here for more information!

If you can’t make the event but still want to make 2014 a healthier one, you can contact our Outpatient Dietitian, Rachel Kingsley, to schedule a meeting.

Outpatient Nutrition Brochure