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The difference you can make when you're all for health.

Steering clear of diabetes with teamwork

When Cortne first visited Stephanie Burns, Highmark diabetes health coach, she prepared herself for a lecture. Instead, Stephanie shared her own story of overcoming eating disorders and her success in losing weight, making Cortne feel more comfortable.

Stephanie started Cortne on small changes in her diet, like adding fiber and drinking more water. Over the next six months, Cortne lost 50 pounds and, most importantly, lowered her blood sugar into the normal range.

Cortne and Stephanie continue to walk together for exercise. Cortne is living proof that better health is within reach, especially with an understanding coach on your side.

Highmark health coaches change lives

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes is rapidly increasing.

Highmark has wellness teams to help people control diabetes and other conditions. The teams offer personalized solutions based on each person's needs and include case managers, pharmacists, doctors, social workers, dietitians and behavioral health specialists.

"I hadn't been to a doctor in two or three years," said Cortne. "I was afraid to get a blood test. I was afraid I'd be stuck with diabetes."

"Cortne's A1C (average blood glucose level) was 11.1 — firmly in diabetic territory," said Stephanie. "She wasn't following her doctor's advice. To let her know what was possible, I shared my personal history of struggling with weight. It's my way of connecting with my patients."

When she met with Stephanie, Cortne was impressed. "It was like she knew me. She’d been there and knew the struggle," Cortne said.

Meeting and walking together

Cortne met with Stephanie every few weeks, changed the way she ate and watched her weight go down. Her A1C went from 11.1 to 5.5 — a major achievement that brought it within the normal range.

To help motivate Cortne to exercise, Stephanie joined her for regular walks — an activity they enjoy and continue.

"I feel like a different person. And this is just the beginning. She really did change my life and I'm so grateful," said Cortne.

A silent epidemic

It is estimated that 9 percent of Americans — more than 29 million people — have diabetes, although 8.1 million of them are undiagnosed.

One out of every three adults has prediabetes and 90 percent of them don't even know they have it. By taking prompt action and making lifestyle changes, these people can avoid moving to a full diabetic condition.

Limit the risks of complications

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can help people avoid additional complications, such as:

  • Nerve damage in the feet (neuropathy)
  • Skin infections
  • Eye issues, such as glaucoma and cataracts
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure or stroke
  • Stomach and digestion problems (gastroparesis)
  • Diabetic coma

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes all revolve around insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the body absorb and use the glucose created from digesting food.

Risk factors such as high blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides, and abdominal obesity can make you more likely to develop insulin resistance.

Highmark members can call Member Service at 1-888-BLUE-428 to talk with a health coach.

Learn more about diabetes

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