Are you at risk? Diabetes Alert Day sounds alarm

Are you at risk? Diabetes Alert Day sounds alarm

Parkland provider urges Dallas residents to learn how to prevent, delay onset

If you knew that you could prevent or delay a fire burning down your house, would you take action? For the estimated 7.2 million people in the U.S. with type 2 diabetes who are undiagnosed and one in three American adults at risk of someday developing type 2 diabetes, the “fire alarm” bells are ringing.

March 26 is designated as National Diabetes Alert Day, created by the American Diabetes Association to help alert the public about the potentially life-threatening disease. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

Beverly Lott, 55, of Dallas, nearly died from the disease last October – and didn’t even know she had it.

“I was overall healthy,” she said. “But last fall I began feeling dehydrated, nauseated and within a few days I felt extremely ill.”

Lott landed in the ICU at Parkland Memorial Hospital where she had a blood sugar reading above 560 and was told she was experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that affects some people with diabetes. Family members gathered, preparing for the worst.

“But I didn’t give up,” Lott said. Her family and faith, combined with excellent medical care, pulled her through. And the unexpected diagnosis of diabetes has given her a new mission – first, to make all the necessary lifestyle changes her Parkland medical providers have recommended in order to live a full and healthy life, and second, to help others.

“I want people to know you have to be aware of your body. Listen to it every day, it gives you signs,” she said.

Lott is not alone on her journey of learning how to live with diabetes. One in 10 U.S. adults has diabetes, and that number is projected to double or even triple by the year 2050. More than 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year and more than 11 percent of Dallas County residents have the disease, according to Luigi Meneghini, MD, Executive Medical Director of the Global Diabetes Program at Parkland Health & Hospital System and Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“Diabetes is a very serious health issue in Dallas County. There are more than 50,000 diagnosed diabetes patients at Parkland,” he said. “It is so important to work with our community to increase their awareness about the risks associated with diabetes, as well as to provide them with the knowledge and skills to control the disease, because the health consequences of diabetes can be so severe.”

The American Diabetes Association estimates that about 89 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes but are elevated above normal levels. Persons with prediabetes have a 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they don’t make significant lifestyle changes, such as diet and physical activity.

“Parkland is actively working on identifying individuals with prediabetes so they can receive appropriate intervention and hopefully prevent progression to type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Meneghini said. “The good news is that for most people, developing type 2 diabetes is not inevitable.”

Here’s what you can do to prevent or delay onset of the disease:
• Stay at a healthy weight – if necessary, lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight
• Eat well – learn to make healthier choices
• Be active – do some type of moderate physical activity 150 minutes or more per week

“By making these simple lifestyle changes, millions of people can live longer and healthier lives, avoiding the very serious health complications of diabetes that can include heart disease, blindness, amputation, and other preventable health problems,” Dr. Meneghini concluded.

As soon as she was discharged from the hospital last fall, Lott began shedding old habits and building new, healthier ones. Her determination has paid off. When she left the hospital, her A1C level – a measure of blood sugar - was 16. Today it’s 6.9.

“Even though I was vegan and ate a healthy diet of mostly fruit and vegetables, I didn’t understand how to count carbs and I didn’t know about portion control or measure my serving sizes. I didn’t drink sodas, but I drank a lot of fruit juices and they can have a lot of sugar and calories. Since attending the Diabetes Nutrition Class at Parkland’s Bluitt-Flowers Health Center I’ve learned a lot.”

On her physician’s recommendation, Lott is eating lean protein and meat and is working with registered dietitian Sharon Cox to learn how to plan meals, and even her snacks, for the entire week. Cox is also helping her learn to prepare vegan meals that meet her nutritional needs. In addition, she walks for 15 minutes during her morning and afternoon breaks at work, 45 minutes during her lunch break and an additional 30 minutes or more each evening around her neighborhood with her pet schi-tzu.

“My goal is to get back to the gym,” she said. “I used to go regularly and I have a plan for my exercise routine as well as my diet.”

The Global Diabetes Program at Parkland is driving initiatives for a comprehensive approach to improve access to clinical care and more closely connect patients to care in their local communities. Parkland’s diabetes website is a valuable free resource for anyone interested in learning more about living with diabetes, as well as prevention. Available in both English and Spanish at, it offers easy-to-access information about risk factors, nutrition, exercise, medication, support groups, a diabetes blog and more.

The American Diabetes Association offers a free Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test on its website at

For more information about Parkland services visit