University City

Evaluate your risk of getting diabetes

When Ardrey Massey’s doctor pricked her finger during a routine visit and then told her she was prediabetic, the 62-year-old shook her head in disbelief.

“I was very surprised when she told me,” said Massey, who lives in the Braemar subdivision in University City. “Prediabetes wasn’t anything that had entered my mind.”

To try and prevent a diabetes diagnosis, her doctor suggested she join a new prevention program that was starting at the University City YMCA.

Sponsored by Carolinas HealthCare System and the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, the Pre-Diabetes Challenge is a yearlong campaign aimed at reducing the number of new diabetes diagnoses in the community by catching people at risk before they get the disease.

“Our goal is to identify those people in that category and really do the prevention side of it,” said registered nurse Melissa Gettmann, manager of LiveWELL Carolinas! “We want to give them the tools and resources they need to reverse the risk.”

Type 2 diabetes has become a national public health epidemic. In North Carolina, 26 million people have diabetes. In Mecklenburg County, 55,000 have been diagnosed.

One in 4 people are diabetic and don’t even know it.

“There’s also a large population that has prediabetes, that group right before you turn into diabetes, Gettmann said. “Nine out of 10 people who are prediabetic are unaware that they have it.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, a prediabetes diagnosis occurs when a person’s blood glucose registers between 5.7 and 6.4 on a finger-prick test called an A1C.

During the Pre-Diabetes Challenge, anyone can come into LiveWELL Carolinas! for a free diabetes risk assessment, which includes a short questionnaire and an A1C test.

Anyone identified as prediabetic can enroll in one of the campaign’s yearlong classes, which meet once each week for four months and then taper to once a month.

A new class begins Jan. 29 at University City YMCA. The cost is $75 for Y members and $100 for others, but the fee is applied on a sliding scale depending on a participant’s household income.

Another class will start at LiveWELL Carolinas! beginning on Feb. 3 at a cost of $45.

Individuals should check with their insurance carriers for possible coverage of the course fee.

“We hold weekly weigh-ins. We talk about food journaling, lifestyle changes and barriers like stress,” said Erin Karp, health and awareness director at the Johnston YMCA, one of 12 branches to offer the course. “We want them to increase their exercise time to 150 minutes per week and reduce their body fat by 7 percent.”

The program worked for Massey, who dropped 25 pounds after using the tips she learned during the course.

“The main thing was how to change my eating habits and incorporate more vegetables and fruits, and fewer carbs, into my diet,” she said. “They showed me why that was so important, and it really wasn’t that difficult to do.”

Massey cooks at home more often now and brings healthier snacks to work instead of hitting up the vending machine for a bag of greasy potato chips.

Three months after her initial prediabetes diagnosis, she got good news from her doctor.

“When I went back to the doctor, they ran another blood test, and it showed I was clear,” she said. “The doctor was amazed; the nurse was thrilled; and I was definitely elated, because that (prediabetes) was nothing I wanted.”