Diabetes is a serious matter, and a free testing clinic was held Thursday in Brandon to identify those who may be at risk.
"We have a prevalence of diabetes in Manitoba, with almost 400,000 Manitobans either living with diabetes, at risk for diabetes or prediabetes," said Kelly Lambkin, community engagement manager for Diabetes Canada Manitoba Nunavut, during the A1C (blood sugar) testing clinic at the Manitoba Metis Federation offices.
That represents 27 per cent of the province’s population.
The clinic was hosted by the MMF, Diabetes Canada and Dynacare.
"The need to understand your risk factors is extremely important, as Type 2 diabetes can prevented or delayed," Lambkin said.
In fact, 30 per cent of all strokes, 40 per cent of heart attacks and 70 per cent of non-traumatic limb amputations are related to diabetes, she said, adding it is also the leading cause of blindness.
The good news is, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through lifestyle, healthy eating and active living, Lambkin said.
However, she said, there are many genetic factors, as well, that put people at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, particularly in Indigenous, South Asian and African-Caribbean communities.
Leah LaPlante, vice-president of the MMF’s southwest region, lives with Type 2 diabetes.
"A lot of people in the Indigenous world are diabetic," she said.
"I didn’t know I was diabetic until I had a heart attack. That’s not the way we want our people to find out that they’re diabetic, or anyone else for that matter."
LaPlante said learning she has diabetes "hit like a sucker punch."
November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
Dynacare, a LabCorp company, is aiming to get 55,000 Manitobans — particularly those most at risk — to take the A1C (blood sugar) test. The organization will also be making a 50-cent donation to Diabetes Canada for every test completed at a Dynacare location in Manitoba between Oct. 21 and Nov. 30, up to a total of $25,000.
In a news release, Dynacare said this initiative comes at no cost to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living as it is fully funded by Dynacare, including the cost of all additional A1C tests ordered.
Dynacare and Diabetes Canada encourage Manitobans who have never been tested for diabetes to start the process by assessing their risk factors. If they have one or more risk factors, or are experiencing symptoms, they are encouraged to consult with their doctor and request a requisition for an A1C test.
The test can be taken free of charge at any Dynacare location in Manitoba. Doctors who receive test results with blood sugar levels above the normal range typically contact their patients directly to arrange a consultation and discuss a treatment plan.
This year, Dynacare is also reinforcing its commitment to Manitoba’s at-risk communities living in rural and remote areas by organizing mobile clinic locations throughout the province.
"One of the reasons we organize the clinics is to make them a bit more accessible, understanding that not everyone has a regular physician or is even able to travel ... to make it more convenient and make testing more available," said Dynacare corporate communications manager Mark Bernhardt.
This is the second year Dynacare and Diabetes Canada have teamed up for the awareness campaign.
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