On May 1st, United Medical Center (UMC) opened a new Sleep Center to diagnose and treat individuals suffering from sleep disorders. Most people are unaware that chronic sleep disorders along with cancer, obesity and other illnesses are one of the health disparities that plague African Americans. In fact, sleep problems are more likely to strike African Americans than other ethnic groups.
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Nationwide over 26 % of the population are obese and 27.5 % have hypertension. In addition, over 8 % of the nation’s men, women, and children have diabetes and that number is increasing yearly at an alarming rate. Studies have shown that hypertension, obesity, and diabetes in many cases, can be directly attributed to a person having a sleep disorder.
“In UMC’s primary service area, the numbers are even more dramatic than the national statistics,” said Dr. Eskender Beyene, Sleep Medicine Specialist. “The obesity rate for residents in Ward 7 is 40 % and in Ward 8 it is 42 %. As obesity relates to sleep disorders, up to 40% of individuals with mild obesity have sleep apnea; up to 71% with severe obesity and up to 74% with morbid obesity suffer from sleep apnea.”
According to United Medical Center spokesperson, Natalie C. Williams, “Hypertension among Ward 7 residents is 42 % and in Ward 8 it is 41 %. National studies have shown that between 30% and 40% of these individuals may also suffer from sleep apnea. And while diabetes affects almost 14 % of the residents in Ward 7 and 18 % of those living in Ward 8, studies have shown that seven out of every ten Type 2 diabetes patients may also suffer from sleep apnea. There are too many people in Southeast D.C. totally unaware that they have a problem with sleep. Our team of doctors and technicians at the Sleep Center are prepared to evaluate and treat the hundreds, possibly thousands of people in the community who need help overcoming sleep disorders.”
Sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, sleep deprivation, and restless leg syndrome. Most sleep problems can be directly attributed to other medical problems that can be life threatening.
“What many people do not realize is that sleep apnea, or when a person stops breathing numerous times while they sleep, can cause death,” said Dr. Beyene. “Sleep apnea must be taken seriously because it can contribute to the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and increase the likelihood of motor vehicle and work-related accidents. Studies have shown that individuals who suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity which all lead to cardiovascular disease.”