Award winning actress challenges Memphians to know their A1C - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Award winning actress challenges Memphians to know their A1C

Merkerson encourages people to know their A1C. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) Merkerson encourages people to know their A1C. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

She's appeared on more episodes of Law & Order than any other actor, portraying the longest-running African American character in TV history. But on Friday in Memphis, S. Epatha Merkerson took on a role that is truly a matter of life or death.

NBC head honchos invited Merkerson to a healthy living event as celebrity guest-- and that's when life changed forever.

"And with the camera rolling they take my blood sugar and I'm smiling at the camera - oh this didn't hurt - and all of that business, and the camera goes off and the doctor comes over and says when you finish can you come back," said Merkerson. "I'm thinking autograph, photograph. Sure I'll come back. And when I get back to him he tells me my blood sugar is high."

Merkerson is a Type 2 Diabetic; one of 29 million Americans living with the disease.

"And then you break that down to African Americans and women - and even here in Tennessee - 11% of adults in Tennessee - have been diagnosed with diabetes - then this becomes a very important dialogue," added the actress.

Merkerson lends her voice to America's Diabetes Challenge, a pledge to know your A1C, the blood test that shows your average blood sugar level over the past two or three months. Knowing your A1C helps you and your doctor develop a diabetes treatment plan to get your levels in check.

"The American Diabetes Association has suggested that someone with type 2 diabetes have a seven percent or less, so you have the guidelines. That's the simple part," noted Merkerson. "The hard part is getting to goal. And taking care of the things you need to take care of."

For Merkerson, that means eating better, exercising more, taking medication and helping others achieve their goal.

Here are five questions to ask your doctor about diabetes and A1C:

1. What is my A1C and what should my goal be?

2. How often should I test my blood sugar and what should my targets be?

3. What are the possible side effects of the medication(s) I am taking?

4. Do I need to make any changes to my overall management plan?

5. What are the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar?

Visit to take the pledge to get your diabetes under control and save your life.

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