The Diabetes Epidemic Among African Americans | BlackDoctor

    The Diabetes Epidemic Among African Americans

    • Diabetes is a group of diseases
    marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin
    production, insulin action, or both. Diabetes can lead to serious complications
    and premature death, but people with diabetes can take steps to control the
    disease and lower the risk of complications.

    • Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the
    United States. Total health care and
    related costs for the treatment of
    diabetes run about $132 billion annually.

    • Type 1 diabetes (formerly
    called juvenile diabetes) results when the body’s immune system attacks and
    destroys its own insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. People with type
    1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump. Symptoms of type
    1 diabetes – increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss,
    blurred vision, and extreme fatigue – usually develop over a short period of
    time. If type 1 diabetes is not diagnosed and treated, a person can lapse into a
    life-threatening coma. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed
    cases of diabetes.

    • Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes) occurs when the
    body does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes
    effectively. This form of diabetes usually develops in adults over the age of 40
    but is becoming more prevalent in younger age groups including children and
    adolescents. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes – feeling tired or ill, unusual
    thirst, frequent urination especially at night, weight loss, blurred vision,
    frequent infections, and slow-healing wounds – may develop gradually and may not
    be as noticeable as in type 1 diabetes. Some people have no symptoms.Type 2
    diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. The
    following factors increase a person’s chances of having type 2 diabetes: a
    family history of diabetes, being a member of an ethnic group such as African
    Americans, being overweight or obese, having had diabetes while pregnant
    (gestational diabetes), having high blood pressure, having abnormal cholesterol
    (lipid) levels, and not getting enough physical activity.

    • Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. Women who have had
    gestational diabetes have a 20 to 50 percent chance of developing diabetes,
    mostly type 2, in the next 5 – 10 years.

    • 3.2 million African
    Americans ages 20 years and older (or 13.3 percent) have diabetes, one-third of
    whom are undiagnosed.
    • On average, African Americans are 1.8 times more
    likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites of similar age.

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