People living with type 2 diabetes are saying ‘no thanks’ to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke

News Release, American Heart Association

This World Diabetes Day, Know Diabetes by Heart™ national spokespeople spotlight the link between type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease

ARLINGTON, Va., and DALLAS, Nov. 14, 2019 — On Thursday, November 14, 2019,World Diabetes Day, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, two of the world’s leading health organizations in the areas of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, announce new patient spokespeople for Know Diabetes by Heart™, a joint initiative to inspire more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes to lower their risk for cardiovascular death, heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.

Five ambassadors and champions who support their health goals were selected following a nationwide search by Know Diabetes by Heart, which is headlined by Golden Globe Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated actress Angela Bassett. The national spokespeople are sharing their personal journeys with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to help others manage the link.

People living with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease and stroke[1], but only about half of them who are 45 or older understand their increased risk or have discussed it with their doctor[2]. New focus group research revealed that people living with type 2 diabetes are more likely to mention concerns about diabetes complications like losing their eyesight or a limb than heart disease or stroke[3].

Bassett, star and executive producer of the TV series 9-1-1, and the Know Diabetes by Heart ambassadors and champions are speaking up to raise awareness and encourage people living with type 2 diabetes to say “no thanks” to their higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Bassett, who released a Know Diabetes by Heart public service announcement earlier this year, lost her mother to heart complications from diabetes. 

“I wish my family had recognized the link earlier and that’s why I want everyone living with type 2 diabetes to know about the connection to heart disease and stroke and know that they can do something about it. Start by asking about it at your next doctor’s appointment,” Bassett said. “I also want to thank our ambassadors for bravely sharing their deeply personal stories on such a big stage. I know they will be a source of strength and encouragement for others.”

The 2019-20 Know Diabetes by Heart national ambassadors are:

  • Jacqueline Alikhaani (Los Angeles, CA) – Jacqueline, 59, and her husband are both heart survivors, making heart health management a priority in their household. Jacqueline is passionate about spreading awareness of the link between type 2 diabetes and heart disease, speaking up at family reunions and serving as a research advocate for her loved ones. Jacqueline’s champion is her husband, Sadegh.
  • Hyvelle Ferguson Davis (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Following her type 2 diabetes diagnosis at age 33, Hyvelle, now 47, tried to make the necessary changes to manage her condition, but she reverted to a poor diet and lifestyle habits. At 41, she had a wakeup call – a stroke, followed by quadruple bypass surgery – that inspired her to fully commit to healthy living. Hyvelle’s champions are her sister, Judith Missick, and her niece, Sasha Missick.
  • Christina Herrera (Dallas, TX) – After losing three close family members to heart disease complications as a result of type 2 diabetes, Christina, 45, experienced heart attack symptoms at work. In the emergency room tests revealed three blocked arteries, leading to a triple bypass surgery. Today, she controls her type 2 diabetes through regular exercise (running is her favorite), healthy eating and managing her medications. Christina’s champion is her high school friend, Juanita Cano.
  • Brandon Lewis (Dallas, TX) – Although he has a family history of type 2 diabetes, Brandon, 41, ignored his risks until he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in 2015. He has since pledged to eat healthier, be more active and lose weight to lower his risk for heart disease and stroke. Brandon’s champion is his wife, Seckeita.
  • Rob Taub (New York City, NY) – Rob, 63, saw the toll that type 2 diabetes and heart disease took on his parents while he cared for them. After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure himself, Rob changed his lifestyle and lost more than 60 pounds. As a writer and broadcast personality, Rob also spreads awareness about how to manage type 2 diabetes and lessen heart disease risks through his TV and radio segments. Rob’s champion is his friend, Dr. Evelyn Granieri.

“Our ambassadors will not only awaken the world to the heart-related risks of living with type 2 diabetes, but they will also empower others living with the disease,” said Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association, who also lives with type 2 diabetes. “Their strength and determination to thrive despite their diagnosis is truly an inspiration for all of us.”

“It’s the powerful stories from real people living with and supporting those with type 2 diabetes that give hope to others,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “Knowing you are not alone is the first step to better manage the condition and enjoy quality time with loved ones.”

Know Diabetes by Heart is made possible with support from founding sponsors, the Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company Diabetes Alliance, and Novo Nordisk, and national sponsors, Sanofi, AstraZeneca, and Bayer.


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