Angela Bassett has teamed up with the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for the “Know Diabetes by Heart” initiative to raise awareness about the increased risk of heart disease and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes.
The 61-year-old said in a PSA video for the initiative, “You’ve been diagnosed with a new purpose to fight for the amazing life you’ve made for yourself. Look that risk of heart disease square in the face and say, ‘No, not me.’”
She said that her strong familial history of diabetes has inspired her to educate people with the condition about the importance of taking care of their health.
Bassett revealed that her mother passed away about five years ago because of complications from her long history of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The Black Panther actress said, “That was really hard on the family and since then, overlapping with that, her brother, the patriarch of our family, he also has type 2 diabetes, so it really is a family affair.”
According to Know Diabetes by Heart, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and die from it.
Bassett explained that it was a bit challenging for her mother to change her lifestyle after receiving the diagnosis of diabetes. She said, “Growing up in Florida, you know, Southern family and Southern cuisine – and she [her mother] had a love affair with food. And so it was very, very difficult for her to change that … she was stubborn.”
“She was in touch with her doctors, but she was a little bit more obstinate — one of those personalities where ‘don’t tell me what to do,’” she added.
Bassett said you do not need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle in order to control your diabetes. She said, “It can start with small, manageable steps.”
“Sometimes when you’re sitting in front of a doctor, some of us go mute,” she said. “I know I have to write down a list of questions I don’t want to forget to ask.”
Basset does not have type 2 diabetes but she is inspired to help others who are living with it and encourage them to make subtle changes to stay away from the complications of diabetes. “Sometimes, you know, because my schedule is so busy, I find that if I don’t have an opportunity to work out, I do have to be mindful of my diet,” the actress said. “That period, overall. But especially if I … can’t find that time.”