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Heart of the Valley: Valley woman discusses how she improved her health following diabetes diagnosis

Heart of the Valley: Valley woman discusses how she improved her health following diabetes diagnosis
1 month 3 weeks 1 day ago Wednesday, April 24 2024 Apr 24, 2024 April 24, 2024 10:56 PM April 24, 2024 in News - Heart of the Valley

A Type 2 diabetes diagnosis is a reality for many in the Rio Grande Valley, including Mary Sifuentes.

According to Sifuentes, the disease runs in her family.

“I saw my other family members having to go to dialysis, and my tia having the amputation of her legs,” Sifuentes said.

Sifuentes was diagnosed with the disease in her mid-40s. At the time, she said, her health was not a priority.

As the disease started running its course, she started getting worried.

“As I got older, things started getting more serious,” Sifuentes said. “Like having to see the cardiologist and having high blood pressure, and vision changes."

Sifuentes decided to make a change, and she started to exercise and ate fewer carbohydrates.

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With those changes, Sifuentes lost 140 pounds.

Despite the weight loss and lifestyle change, her blood sugar levels were still high.

Sifuentes and her doctor decided to try Mounjaro, an injection approved by the FDA in 2022.

With the drug, Sifuentes lost another 20 pounds, and her A1C levels dropped to 5.1. She's been in remission for the past three months, and credits it to the drug.

“It's worth it when you start seeing your A1C go down, and it goes down to a normal level,” Sifuentes said. “It is a great feeling, that's why this drug is a game changer for diabetics."

Doctors says they see the benefits in patients.

Dr. Jeffrey Panting Crespo with South Texas Health System says he prefers Ozempic or Mounjaro compared to insulin, adding that he believes insulin can do more harm than good.

“The problem with insulin is that it's an anabolic hormone, which means it predisposes you to gain more weight,” Crespo said. “The more insulin you use, sometimes your pancreas ceases to work.”

Like with all prescriptions, Dr. Crespo warns the drugs come with a side effect. He recommends those with Type 2 diabetes talk to their health team about the best treatment options.

“Talk to your doctor, it might just be the tool you need to get that extra step and take control of your health,” Crespo said.

Sifuentes says she’s taken the steps to get control of her health, and she encourages everyone — no matter their age — to do the same.

“You find yourself exercising, eating healthier, watching your carbs, seeing a difference in your attitude,” Sifuentes said. “And just everything — your stress, your mental wellbeing — all of it will change for the better."

Watch the video above for the full story. 

HEB and South Texas Health Systems are offering free diabetes screenings in the month of April. Visit our Heart of the Valley page to view our calendar for times and dates where the screenings will be available.

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