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November - Diabetes Awareness Month

Image of Margo Kerrigan Margo Kerrigan, M.P.H, Area Director

Indian Health Service California Area Office


November is Diabetes Awareness month as sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. In observance of this time and important topic I would like to remind everyone of the outstanding work that is taking place across California in Indian Country. You are all leaders in the treatment and prevention efforts of Diabetes in your own communities.

Raising awareness of this ever-growing disease is one of the main efforts behind the mission of the IHS.  American Diabetes Month is an important element in this effort, with programs designed to focus the nation's attention on the issues surrounding diabetes and the many people who are impacted by the disease.

What is Diabetes?

  • The body does not produce or properly use insulin
  • Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use glucose (sugar) for energy.  The body produces glucose (sugar) from the food you eat

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

  • Usually diagnosed in children and young adults

Type 2 diabetes

  • Most common form
  • Most often diagnosed in adults

What is Prediabetes?

  • Comes before type 2 diabetes
  • Blood glucose (sugar level) is higher than normal, but not yet diabetes

A1C: 5.7 - 6.4%

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: 100-125 mg/dl

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: 140-199 mg/dl

You are at increased risk for diabetes if.......

  • You are overweight
  • A parent, brother, or sister has diabetes
  • You are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • You had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or had gestational diabetes
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have low HDL (good cholesterol)
  • You have high triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood)

Diabetes Complications -

Heart Disease and Stroke

  • The risk for stroke and death from heart disease is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes

Kidney Disease

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44 percent of new cases in 2008


  • More than 60 percent of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes


  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20-74 years old

Preventing Complications

By Managing the ABCs of diabetes, people with diabetes can reduce their risk of complications

  • A stands for A1C (a measure of average blood glucose)
  • B stands for Blood pressure control
  • C stands for Cholesterol control

Talk to your health care team about what A1C goal, Blood Pressure goal and Cholesterol goal is right for you.  Talk to a Registered Dietitian about eating more foods with fiber, lower in fat, salt and sugar.  Increase activity throughout the day by doing things you enjoy: work in the garden, play with kids or animals, or walk to a friend's house.  If you smoke, get help to quit smoking.  These steps will reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Diabetes Month takes place each November and is a time to come together as a community to end this epidemic disease.  Become a strong member of your health care team and make decisions that will benefit you, your family and entire community.

The Indian Health Service through the Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention provides technical assistance and education through their web page:  Please take time to explore this entire web page, it is full of information, stories and resources that aide in the battle against diabetes.


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