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From her reign as Queen Ramonda in mega-hitBlack Pantherto her tough police-sergeant persona on the series9-1-1, Angela Bassett is known for her strong, protective roles. It's those same traits that make her a tireless health advocate. The talented actress is spreading awareness about the connection between Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (Heart disease is the most common cause of death among adults with diabetes.) Bassett shares why she’s so passionate about this health issue and how you can join the effort.
WD: Why does the connection between Type 2 diabetes and heart disease mean so much to you?My mother developed Type 2 diabetes and subsequently, died four years ago from heart disease at 78. Like many people, I was unaware the diseases were linked and that people with Type 2 diabetes are up to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Raising awareness is a tribute to my mother’s life. My Uncle Ralph now has Type 2 diabetes and is at risk for heart disease, so this health concern really touches me.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death among adults with diabetes.
WD: What have you done to spotlight this issue?I’ve joined theFor Your Sweetheartcampaign to encourage the community at large to be proactive—whether you have Type 2 diabetes or someone dear to your heart does. It’s so simple to take the campaign’s Heart You Quiz and talk with your doctor to find out your risk of heart disease. The sooner you know that, the more you can do to manage the risk.
WD: With turning 60 this year, are you more vigilant about maintaining a healthy lifestyle?Absolutely. I’m on the “other side” and want to be around for my kids. I keep up with annual physicals, since you don’t always know what’s going on inside. As a big sweets lover, I’ve spent 16-hour days on set constantly picking at all the delicious pastries and candies craft services puts out. Over months, that has a cumulative effect. I’ve learned to stay away so I don’t have to see the sweets and just stick to something healthy like veggies and hummus. You have to know yourself. Sleep is also so important in relieving stress and so is quality time with family or friends, when you can share what’s on your mind and heart and laugh uproariously.
WD: How do you talk to family about managing their risk, without nagging?Sometimes nagging works [she laughs]. But my aunt would say, ‘Some people can be asked a question, but not told what to do.’ With Courtney [Bassett’shusband, actor Courtney Vance], I may pose a question like, “Do you think this meal, or whatever, would be a good idea?” It makes him think about it. In the end, when family knows concern and love are at the heart of your suggestion, they are more open to listening.
Video: Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options
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