Sharon Boykin: From the side effects of the diabetes I've had five strokes. I've had eight stents put into my heart. I've had open heart surgery, partial amputation of both feet. I have cataracts and glaucoma now and high blood pressure and I have high cholesterol. That's before I found out what I needed to do to correct it all.
Announcer: Sharon Boykin has diabetes. She has suffered from heart disease and required bypass surgery because she was unaware of the link between diabetes and heart disease.
Judith Fradkin, M.D.: What most people don't know is that people who have diabetes, even if they've never shown any sign of having heart disease, are at the same risk for heart disease as somebody who's already had a heart attack.
Announcer: Research shows that controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol are critical in preventing heart disease and stroke among people with diabetes.
Judith Fradkin, M.D.: We call this approach "the ABCs of diabetes." A is the A1C, a measure of how well the blood sugar has been controlled over the previous three months. B is blood pressure and C is cholesterol. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated the importance of all three of these and we know that controlling the three can dramatically reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications of diabetes.
Announcer: Diabetes is most common in adults over age 40 but many of them don't realize what they can do to prevent two of the disease's most serious complications.
John Buse, M.D.: As the population ages, we would expect some increase in the proportion of people with diabetes and though it seems simple, it's amazing how few people with diabetes recognize the importance of blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes management to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Sharon Boykin: If I had paid more attention to this years ago and changed my lifestyle then, I probably wouldn't have to had open heart surgery or the stents, but now I have permanent heart damage so the only thing I can do now is just live to survive.
Announcer: People with diabetes should work with their doctors to monitor the ABCs of diabetes.
Judith Fradkin, M.D.: We want patients who have diabetes to ask their doctors, "What is my A1C, my blood pressure, my cholesterol, what should it be and what can I do to get there?"
Announcer: Sharon Boykin understands the benefits of following this approach. She lost weight in order to control her diabetes.
Sharon Boykin: By knowing what your ABC numbers are, you'll be able to help save your own life -- the lower they are, the better chance you have of living -- your living conditions will be better.
John Buse, M.D.: Knowing your ABCs will help you reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke to live a longer and healthier life.