Diabetes and Your Heart

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Television and radio legend Dick Clark and Virginia Zamudio, president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, shared an important message about diabetes and heart health when they joined us to chat on April 20. They have an important message that they want you to take to heart.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR: Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we are speaking with television and radio legend Dick Clark about diabetes. Joining us later will be Virginia Zamudio, president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. They have an important message that you need to take to heart.

MODERATOR: Dick Clark, welcome to WebMD Live.

CLARK: Thank you very much. Nice to be with you.

MODERATOR: Many people were surprised by your announcement that you have type 2 diabetes. How long have you had this?

CLARK: Oh, 10 or 11 years. It isn't anything I ever talked about in public, though my family knew. I thought maybe I should go public when I heard the announcement that two-thirds of the people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke and it seemed like a good idea to spread the word that this is rather startling news.

MODERATOR: Everyone should know that Mr. Clark is joining the American Association of Diabetes Educators to launch Diabetes: Know the Heart Part, a national public education campaign to alert Americans to the fact that diabetes and heart disease are closely related.

CLARK: You know the leading cause of death in adults with diabetes is heart disease. Actually, two-thirds of all the adults with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. That's a pretty startling statistic.

MODERATOR: It certainly is. How are you managing your diabetes?

CLARK: Well, I started out 10 or 11 years ago with diet and exercise. Obviously, it didn't succeed that well, so they put me on medication. And these days, in all honesty, I am very, very attentive to my diet and I pay a lot more attention to my exercise, because I don't want to fall into those statistics.

MODERATOR: One of the comments that we've heard here at WebMD on our message boards, when people found out that you have type 2 diabetes, was that maybe this will help break the myth that people with type 2 diabetes are all overweight and sedentary. Dick Clark is obviously neither.

CLARK: Well, you know, I ran into a young woman earlier today who at most weighed 87 or 90 pounds and she had diabetes. So it has nothing really -- I think it's luck of the draw, really, as to what you physically look like. It's something that you should go to your health care provider and find out first of all, do you have diabetes and if you do, then he or she will probably put you on an exercise program with a diet involved, and if necessary, they'll prescribe a medication.

MODERATOR: We're talking about lifestyle changes here, not just a simple quick-fix diet.

CLARK: Oh, yes. The main thrust of this whole thing is that compared with adults without diabetes and heart disease, adults with diabetes are at a tremendously increased risk of heart attack and stroke, even if their cholesterol is normal. So you've got to wake up, find out first of all, do you have the problem, and if you do, handle it. The scary thing is, you would think that everybody with diabetes knows everything, all about it and all the details. The amazing thing is two-thirds of the people with diabetes do not realize they are at risk for heart disease and stroke.

MODERATOR: So it's important not just to maintain your sugar levels, but also to maintain your heart health. What are you doing in particular to help with your heart?

CLARK: Exercise probably is the most important thing for me. I get a little more than I used to. I spend only 20 minutes a day, because frankly, that's all the time I've got after I get up. I watch a little television, I do some weights and walking and rowing and other stuff that gets my heart beating a little faster.

MODERATOR: Is it a challenge with the busy schedule you keep?

CLARK: Well, it's a challenge when I'm on the road traveling, and as much as I hate exercise, I've got to admit I do a little more walking. I move around the room. While I'm in New York, I happened to have my weights here, so I use them, but when I'm on the road it's tougher, but you've got to get out and move around.

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