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Health Information for the Public

Protect Your Heart: Take Good Care of Your Diabetes for Life

Your Choice for Change - Honoring the Gift of Heart Health for American Indians

Section Six - Protect Your Heart: Take Good Care of Your Diabetes for Life

Did you know that by making simple lifestyle changes, such as being physically active, eating healthy foods, and losing weight if you are overweight, you can do a lot to prevent or control type 2 diabetes?

Mary will show you how she and her family took action to prevent and control diabetes.

Mary Learns About Type 2 Diabetes

Mary: "Diabetes runs in my family. I need to know more about diabetes. I want to be a role model for my children and grandchildren."

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes results when the body does not make enough insulin or cannot use it well. This causes high levels of blood glucose (blood sugar) to build up in your blood. Diabetes is a serious disease.

Types of diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes happens when the body stops making insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when some insulin is made, but the body cannot use it well. Type 2 diabetes is more common.

Why Is Diabetes Dangerous?

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Over time, high blood glucose damages the body. Diabetes can lead to blindness, amputation, and kidney problems.

You are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight, especially if you have extra weight around your waist.

  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.

  • Are American Indian, Latino, African American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.

  • Have had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).

  • Have given birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.

  • Have high blood pressure.

  • Have cholesterol levels that are not normal.

  • Are physically active fewer than three times a week.

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Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NIH Publication No. 08-6340
June 2008

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