Seven Tips to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses This Summer for People with Diabetes

UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance is raising awareness about the dangers of heat and humidity for people with diabetes

MINNETONKA, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As summer begins and with potential record-breaking heat waves on the horizon, UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA) is alerting the more than 25 million Americans living with diabetes that they have a higher risk of developing serious, heat-related illnesses.

“Summer can be a great time to get in shape and enjoy the outdoors, but people with diabetes should take extra measures to avoid serious, heat-related illnesses,” said Deneen Vojta, M.D., DPCA executive vice president and chief clinical officer, and UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization senior vice president. “Diabetes can impair a person’s ability to sweat, which means that hot, humid weather can dangerously reduce the body’s capacity to regulate blood sugar levels. It is critical that people with this disease take proper precautions this summer to avoid potentially life-threatening conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Here are seven simple safety precautions for summer as recommended by the DPCA:

  1. Check your blood sugar levels often. Many people tend to be more active in the summer months, and changes in activity and heat levels can affect the body’s insulin needs.
  2. Avoid sunburn. Wear plenty of sun block to avoid sunburn, which can tax your body and cause blood glucose levels to rise.
  3. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which will place further stress on your body and affect glucose levels.
  4. Stay cool. If possible, take breaks from the heat in air-conditioned areas or designated cooling centers. Make sure to exercise in an air-conditioned place.
  5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in high temperatures. Alcohol and caffeine can increase the risk of dehydration for people with diabetes.
  6. Keep medication and supplies as cool as possible, and away from direct sunlight. Extreme temperatures can affect insulin and other supplies, and can cause them to break down or become less potent.
  7. Be alert for signs of heat exhaustion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists these signals as common signs of heat exhaustion: heavy sweating; paleness; muscle cramps; tiredness; weakness; dizziness; headache; nausea or vomiting; and/or fainting. If you or someone you know who has diabetes experiences any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

The DPCA is an innovative partnership between UnitedHealth Group, YMCA of the USA and select retail pharmacies to fight type 2 diabetes – one of the nation’s most serious and expensive medical issues. This Alliance is based on research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health demonstrating that lifestyle intervention and exercise can reduce the chances of developing diabetes, and marks the first time in the country that a health plan is paying for evidence-based diabetes prevention in addition to engaging pharmacists to deliver critical control programs for the disease.

Currently, DPCA programs are available in 17 markets in 11 states and will continue to roll out in additional cities across the country this year and through 2012. DPCA programs are now available to more than 2 million people through the more than 60 large U.S. employers who have signed up for the programs.

To learn more about diabetes and resources offered by UnitedHealth Group, visit:

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. Through its businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 75 million people worldwide. Visit for more information.


UnitedHealth Group
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