The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is recognizing African American History Month in February by spreading awareness about the increased risk of diabetes and kidney disease in African Americans, and the importance of health management to prevent these chronic health conditions. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, causing over 40% of all cases. For African American adults with diabetes, it’s important to control your disease and take care of your health to prevent future health complications, such as kidney failure.
An estimated 4.9 million—18.7 percent—of all non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older have diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes. Additionally, African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites and are more likely to suffer diabetes-related complications, such as kidney failure and lower extremity amputations. In fact, unmanaged diabetes is four times more likely to cause kidney failure in African Americans than in non-Hispanic whites and can also lead to serious complications such as blindness, limb amputation, heart attack, and stroke. The good news is that people with diabetes can reduce the risk for these complications by controlling blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids. The following steps can help individuals with diabetes control their disease and prevent or delay complications:
- Learn About Diabetes. Diabetes means that your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. Diabetes is serious because it can damage your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
- Know Your Numbers. Ask your doctor what diabetes target numbers are best for you. Learn about your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers (known as the ABCs of diabetes).
- Manage Your Diabetes. Keep track of your diabetes numbers, be active on most days of the week, eat healthy, and don’t smoke.
- Get Regular Care. Contact your health care team if you have any questions or problems as you manage your diabetes, medicines, or supplies.
Despite the increased risk of kidney disease and diabetes in African Americans, type 2 diabetes can be managed as well as prevented or delayed, which can reduce the chance of having other health issues down the road.
For more information about diabetes and kidney disease care and prevention, or for resources and information from the NKFM such as classes and workshops, please visit the NKFM's programs pages.