Award winning actress, S. Epatha Merkerson, urges people with type 2 diabetes to accept America’s Diabetes Challenge

(BPT) – S. Epatha Merkerson is well-known for her award-winning roles on the stage and screen. But what you may not know is that she is one of the 29 million Americans living with diabetes.

In 2003, after having her blood sugar tested at a health fair event and being advised to see her doctor, Merkerson got an important wake-up call – she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Despite having a family history of the disease, she was unaware she had the condition, and following her diagnosis, Merkerson got serious about her health. She worked with her doctor to learn her A1C (average blood sugar level over the past two to three months) and set a personal A1C goal, so she could help get her blood sugar under control.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that many people with diabetes have an A1C of less than 7 percent to help reduce the risk of complications, such as blindness, amputation, heart disease and stroke. For certain individuals, a higher or lower A1C may be more appropriate. However, nearly half of people with diabetes have an A1C greater than 7 percent, which is why it is important for patients to speak with their doctors to discuss the A1C goal that is right for them.

Accept the challenge to get to your goals!

That’s why Merkerson is now teaming up with Merck on America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals. As a part of this educational program, Merkerson is encouraging people living with type 2 diabetes to join her in pledging to know their A1C and to talk to their doctors about setting and attaining their own A1C goal.

“I lost my father and grandmother to complications of diabetes,” says Merkerson, “so I learned firsthand how important it is to know your A1C and make a commitment to getting to your goal. I’m excited to be working on this educational program to help other people with the condition learn about proper blood sugar management and inspire them to achieve their own blood sugar goals.”

To help meet her personal A1C goal, Merkerson worked closely with her doctor to create an individualized diabetes treatment plan, including diet, exercise and medications that fit her specific needs. By sticking to this plan – and making changes with her doctor when necessary – Merkerson has kept her blood sugar under control. It’s important to keep in mind that because diabetes is a progressive disease, sometimes – despite one’s best efforts – their doctor may need to adjust their treatment plan over time to help them reach their blood sugar goals.

Merkerson is urging fellow patients and their loved ones to visit www.AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com and join the America’s Diabetes Challenge Facebook community at Facebook.com/AmericasDiabetesChallenge where they can make their personal A1C pledge, learn more about her diabetes story, and find tips for better blood sugar management.

Key questions to ask your doctor

Achieving blood sugar control can be challenging, yet it is a crucial part of a diabetes management plan. People who join Merkerson in accepting America’s Diabetes Challenge can stay motivated and take an active role in controlling their blood sugar by asking a few key questions to guide their discussion with their doctor:

1. What is my A1C and what should my goal be?

2. How often should I test my blood sugar and what should my targets be?

3. What are the possible side effects of the medication(s) I am taking?

4. Do I need to make any changes to my overall management plan?

5. What are the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar?

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