Merck and Award-Winning Actress S. Epatha Merkerson Challenge Americans with Type 2 Diabetes to Get to Their Goals
Stage and Screen Star Shines a Spotlight on Better Blood Sugar Management With America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals Program
Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced it is teaming up with Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson on America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals, an educational program intended to encourage people with type 2 diabetes to achieve better control of their blood sugar—a key goal to help reduce the risk of serious health problems. Merkerson, who lives with type 2 diabetes, will travel the country urging people to know their A1C (average blood sugar level over the past two to three months) and to work with their doctors to set and attain their own A1C goal.
Nearly half of people with diabetes have an A1C greater than 7 percent, but the American Diabetes Association recommends that many people with diabetes should have an A1C of less than 7 percent to help reduce the risk of complications. For certain individuals, a higher or lower A1C goal may be more appropriate, which is why it is important for people with diabetes to speak with their doctors to discuss the A1C goal that is right for them.
Merkerson was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003 after having her blood sugar tested at a health fair event and being urged to see her doctor. Despite having a family history of the disease, Merkerson was unaware she had type 2 diabetes. After her diagnosis, Merkerson got serious about her health and worked with her doctor to know her own A1C goal and make a personalized diabetes management plan, which included diet, exercise and medication to help her achieve that goal. By sticking to that plan—and making changes with her doctor when necessary—Merkerson has kept her blood sugar under control.
"I lost my father and grandmother to complications of type 2 diabetes," says Merkerson, "So I learned firsthand how important it is to know your A1C and make a commitment to getting to your goal. That's why I'm excited to work with Merck on America's Diabetes Challenge to help people learn about proper blood sugar management and inspire them to set and attain their own goals."
Merkerson is encouraging people with type 2 diabetes to accept America's Diabetes Challenge by pledging to know their A1C and to talk to their doctor about setting and attaining their own blood sugar goals. Friends and family can also pledge to challenge their loved ones to get to their goals. People with type 2 diabetes who take the challenge can stay motivated by completing missions available on www.AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com that will help them work with their doctor to come up with an individualized treatment plan that is right for them.
"Many people with type 2 diabetes do not realize that high blood sugar levels over time can lead to serious long-term health problems," said Robin Goland, M.D., professor of medicine and pediatrics at Columbia University and co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. "Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, along with medications, when prescribed by your doctor, all play important roles in helping people with type 2 diabetes get to their A1C goal. It's critical for people with type 2 diabetes to work with their doctors to come up with an individualized treatment plan that is right for them, then track the progress and adjust the plan if needed."
Most people with diabetes are aware of the importance of controlling high blood sugar, but it's also important for them to understand why blood sugar can sometimes go too low. For people on certain diabetes medications, low blood sugar can be caused by skipping meals or excessive exercise and can make you feel shaky, dizzy, sweaty, hungry, and sometimes, faint. Make sure your doctor explains the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar to you and let him or her know if you are experiencing any of those symptoms.
"At Merck, we are committed to helping people with type 2 diabetes achieve their A1C goal. About 50 percent of patients with diabetes are not at an A1C of less than 7%, despite their diagnosis and treatment plan," said Arpa Garay, U.S. marketing leader, Diabetes Franchise, Merck. "We recognize that living with type 2 diabetes can be challenging and are thrilled to work with S. Epatha Merkerson to help empower more people with type 2 diabetes to talk to their doctor about a personalized treatment plan that will help them reach their goals."
For more information about Merkerson's story, the America's Diabetes Challenge program, and to make a pledge to set and attain your own blood sugar goals, visit www.AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com.You can also join the America's Diabetes Challenge community by visiting Facebook.com/AmericasDiabetesChallenge.
About S. Epatha Merkerson
S. Epatha Merkerson is a celebrated film, stage and television actress known for her long-running role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren in the television series Law & Order. Merkerson has won multiple awards, including an Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and NAACP Image Award for her work in Lackawanna Blues. Merkerson has also been nominated twice for a Tony Award and later this year will be returning to the theatre in the New York debut of While Yet I Live, by Kinky Boots star Billy Porter. Merkerson was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003 and is now working with Merck on America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals to provide resources that help people with type 2 diabetes talk to their doctors, develop an individualized treatment plan, and stick to that plan.
About America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals
America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals is an educational program from Merck urging people with type 2 diabetes to know their A1C and talk to their doctor about setting and attaining their own blood sugar goals. For more information on America's Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals, and to pledge to work with your doctor to reach your blood sugar goals, visit www.AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com.
About Type 2 Diabetes
Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 90% to 95% of these people have type 2 diabetes. One in three American men and 2 in 5 American women born in 2000 will develop diabetes sometime during their lifetime.
When someone has type 2 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin and/or the insulin that the body makes does not work properly. This causes blood sugar levels to become too high, and the body may also keep making sugar even though it does not need it. Once a person has type 2 diabetes, it does not go away, and having diabetes can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.
People with type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk of serious complications by setting individual goals to manage the ABCs of diabetes—A for A1C, also known as blood sugar, B for blood pressure and C for cholesterol.
It is recommended that many people with diabetes have an A1C of less than 7 percent to help reduce the risk of complications, and nearly half of people with diabetes are not at an A1C of less than 7 percent. A higher or lower A1C goal may be appropriate for some people, which is why it is important for people with diabetes to speak with their doctors about what goal is right for them.
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