It's a disease that has grown to epidemic proportions: diabetes. With nearly 26 million Americans living with the condition it's time to strike back.
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital has gone on the offensive, the target: diabetes.
"We said this is something that's preventable, this is something that we can control, we can help influence. Yes some people are more predetermined to it but a lot of it is the choices we choose to make, in terms of our health, in terms of our food intake, in terms of our amount of exercise and so we feel those are all control things." Said Kara Payer Vice President of Mission for Avera Sacred Heart.
This focus on diabetes comes on the heels of the hospital's year-long community health analysis. The study shows that diabetes is on the rise in Yankton County, where eight percent of all deaths are a result of the disease.
"We really want to use our efforts to help educate people to improve their lifestyle." Said Susan Barnes the nurse coordinator for the Dakota Diabetes Center at Avera Sacred Heart.
That education starts with community outreach events, the hospital also plans on hosting diabetic screenings and classes to further educate the public.
"Once you've identified that risk then you can look at your exercise level and healthy eating and looking at lifestyle changes one step at a time, just a little bit at a time." Said Barnes.
The community health analysis also identified heart disease and cancer as problem in the county. But by focusing on diabetes the risk for these other chronic diseases will be lowered as well.
"It will help people be healthier with their heart, be healthier with their cholesterol, be healthier with their blood pressure. So small changes will not only affect the chances of diabetes but it will help improve the health of a whole myriad of things." Said Barnes.
Exercise and diet are the biggest proponents of healthy change. While lifestyle changes aren't the easiest to make into habits the good news is it doesn't take much to see improvement.
"Just a little bit of weight loss, looking at about 7% can really drastically decrease the chances of diabetes by 58% so we're not talking about huge lifestyle changes, exercise and losing weight can make a big difference." Said Barnes.
The concept behind the campaign is the more knowledge people have, the more empowered they are to do something about it.
"We hope that in all of this it will help us in our mission of providing good quality healthcare to our community." Said Payer.
An estimated 7 million Americans don't even know they have the disease and are at risk of developing more health problems. If you think you are at risk talk with your doctor and get checked out. For more information about diabetes and programs to help manage the disease just call 877-AT-AVERA.