African Americans at higher risk for diabetes, kidney disease

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Publication Date: 
01/31/2020

African Americans at higher risk for diabetes, kidney disease
During African American History Month, learn about preventing, managing diabetes

ANN ARBOR, MICH. — (February 1, 2020) — During African American History Month in February, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is raising awareness about the increased risk of diabetes and kidney disease in African Americans, and the importance of lifestyle changes to prevent or manage these health issues. Having diabetes means that your blood sugar is too high. Diabetes is serious because, over time, it can damage your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

An estimated 4.9 million — 18.7% — of all non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Minority youth are also affected; type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 diabetes in non-Hispanic blacks ages 10 to 19. Additionally, African Americans with unmanaged diabetes are four times more likely to suffer serious diabetes-related complications, such as blindness, kidney failure and blood vessel damage resulting in amputations. In 2017, African Americans were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure among African Americans. If you have diabetes, try to do the following to prevent kidney disease and other complications:

  • Take care of yourself.
  • See a doctor regularly.
  • Control your blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
  • Keep track of your diabetes numbers - blood sugar and A1c (blood sugar level over the past three months).
  • Be active on most days of the week.
  • Eat healthier.
  • Don’t smoke.

Research shows that despite the increased risk of diabetes and kidney disease in African Americans, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. Reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% by losing weight, eating less fat and fewer calories, and being active for 150 minutes a week.

Ask your doctor if you are at risk for diabetes. If you do not have a doctor because you do not have health care coverage, consider applying for health care coverage, including Medicaid, through your local Department of Health and Human Services office. You can also apply online at www.mibridges.michigan.gov or call 1-855-789-5610. 

For more information about the prevention or management of diabetes and kidney disease, please visit www.nkfm.org or call 800-482-1455.