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NBA Champ Dominique Wilkins ‘Dunks’ Diabetes

By on June 9, 2012

NBA All-star, two-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion, and all-around cool guy, Dominique Wilkins beat one of his fiercest opponents ever- type 2 diabetes.

In 2000, he learned of a statistic that could have blemished his scorecard. Wilkins’ blood sugar level indicated that he had type 2 diabetes. While he admits initially he was in denial about the diagnosis, his competitive spirit pushed him to become proactive. He’s managing his diabetes and working with a leading pharmaceutical company to change the way people think about living with diabetes. Consider that type 2 diabetes affects more than 25.8 million Americans and over 79 million are pre-diabetic. Moreover, nearly 7 million people with the disease are undiagnosed! Our community cannot sit on the sidelines. It is critical to learn the facts about diabetes and consult with your doctor as you manage it in your life. The stakes are much too high.

Here’s what we need to know about diabetes and blood sugar.

A sugar called glucose enters the bloodstream. It is a source of fuel for the body. An organ called the pancreas makes insulin. The role of insulin is to move glucose from the bloodstream to muscle, fat, and liver cells. This mechanism does not work efficiently in people with type 2 diabetes. They have high blood sugar because their muscle, fat, and liver cells are not responding to their insulin. Do you have any risk factors that put you in the paint for diabetes?

Take a timeout to know your diabetes risk:

  • Age over 45 years
  • A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • History of heart disease
  • High blood cholesterol level
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Ethnicity (particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic Americans)

Also, be aware of these common signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor can coach you on how to be successful against this health opponent. It’s key to control diabetes risks with getting proper, balanced nutrition, active living (physical activity), and medications to manage type 2 diabetes. Make sure you’re engaged with your doctor, ask questions, and schedule regular follow-up appointments.

Monitoring your blood sugar level is critical to assessing the benefits of adjustments in your diet, exercise, and medication regimen.  Discuss the appropriate blood sugar levels with your health provider.  A general rule of thumb for adults is a glucose range of 70mg/dL to 130mg/dL before meals and less than 180mg/dL at bedtime. Instead of being a benchwarmer, commit to participating in your healthcare and making the field goals that will cause an upset against diabetes. Too many turnovers can be very costly to your health.   Don’t be forced out of bounds!  This half-time announcement is intended to help you establish position to champion over type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Bernadette Anderson is a co-owner of Faith Family Health, Inc in Columbus, Ohio. She’s a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and  serves on community boards to improve healthcare disparities. Dr. Anderson is a regular Contributor to healthyblackmen.org.



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