Being diagnosed with diabetes often means making lifestyle changes. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) want patients to view these changes as an opportunity instead of a burden. 

The two associations brought on actress Angela Bassett to star in a new PSA. The video has a twist: half of it has an ominous tone and half is uplifting. The PSA acknowledges that making lifestyle changes after a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can feel like a huge undertaking, but wants to reframe that narrative in the same 30-second video.

“We knew that we needed to help change the narrative and help people living with type 2 think of their diagnosis as a fresh start for them, an opportunity to rethink habits and manage their risk for heart disease and stroke,” said Alyssa Pressley, director of Know Diabetes By Heart. “It’s built on the motivational idea of second chances, a new purpose to manage type 2 diabetes.”

The PSA is running on PatientPoint’s point-of-care waiting room screens in primary care and cardiology practices nationwide. It’s part of the AHA and ADA’s collaborative Know Diabetes By Heart effort, which first launched in 2018. That initiative aims to educate people that having type 2 diabetes increases their risk of heart disease.

The PSA is meant to both raise awareness and encourage patients with diabetes to talk to their doctors. That’s why AHA and ADA chose a point-of-care campaign. “It’s a prime point for us to capture them and for them to be able to act immediately,” Pressley said.

The campaign is also based on market research and focus groups of diabetes patients, she said. Patients often don’t have good conversations with their doctor about heart disease and can feel overwhelmed, that research found.

“Providers and patients with type 2 diabetes aren’t communicating well about heart disease or stroke risk,” Pressley explained. “It’s important for us to connect those dots. We also found that a type 2 diabetes diagnosis is often overwhelming for patients, so the inspirational tone would be important [for this PSA]. People living with type 2 and their loved ones are also motivated by people who know what it’s like to be on the journey as a patient.”

That last point led them to Bassett, who had worked on a previous diabetes initiative and has that personal connection to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Bassett’s mother died from heart disease complications from type 2 diabetes, Pressley said, and her uncle also has type 2 diabetes.

“The initiative is a natural fit for her authentic story and personal experience,” Pressley said. “This campaign means a lot to her.”