NKFM recognizes African American History Month

By Mary Hiller

National Kidney Foundation of Michigan Communications Coordinator

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan 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 and manage these health issues.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure among African Americans. For African American adults with diabetes, it’s important to take care of your health to prevent kidney failure and other health complications.

An estimated 4.9 million — 18.7 percent — of all non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older have diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes. Minority youth are affected, too. In youth 10 to 19 years old, type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 diabetes in non-Hispanic blacks. 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. In addition, if you are a smoker, quit today. Call (800) QUITNOW for help.

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. Research shows that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in minority groups. You can cut your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent by losing weight, eating less fat and fewer calories, and being active for 30 minutes, five days a week.

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