Diabetes continues to destroy the black community

Cardiovascular disease, blindness, amputation and kidney failure are complications of the fifth deadliest disease in America, diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association 2.7 million black people age 20 and older have diabetes.

“Everything just went blank,” said Jarvis McBride, 22, a senior criminal justice student from Miami.

One day, while hanging at her friend Duran Albert’s house, McBride felt dizzy and light-headed. “He was fine at first. Then he started acting strange,” said Albert, 21, a junior psychology student from Miami.

Albert thought he was playing around, but McBride had a crazy look on his face. “The next thing I knew he got up and collapsed on the floor,” Albert said.

McBride awoke to find himself in the hospital. All he could remember after the incident was being at a friend’s house and not feeling so well.

McBride has type 1 diabetes and was not taking his insulin injections as he should.

According to the ADA, there are 18.2 million people in the United States, 6.3 percent of the population, who have diabetes.

It is estimated 13 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes. Unfortunately, 5.2 million people, nearly one-third, are unaware they have the disease.

According to http://blackhealthcare.com, researchers have found that black people inherited diabetes from a gene in their ancestors. The gene helped the Africans use glucose efficiently during famines and feasts.

Since famine is not as widespread in America, the survival gene discourages weight loss. Nevertheless this puts blacks at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the ADA, blacks are 1.6 times more at risk of developing diabetes than whites.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused by abnormally high levels of blood glucose in the body. The reason for the high levels of blood glucose is the lack of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.

The ADA said there are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is when the body ceases to produce insulin.

With type II diabetes, the body can still produce insulin, but cannot use it properly.

According to http://blackhealthcare.com, more blacks have type II diabetes than type I.

According to the ADA’s Complete Guide to Diabetes, symptoms of diabetes may include increased thirst, urination and appetite, blurred vision, frequent or slow-healing infections, weight loss despite increased appetite, erectile dysfunction in men, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and absence of menstruation.

Type 1 diabetes is treated by taking insulin injections, while type 2 is treated by oral medications. But sometimes insulin is used to treat type 2.

Both types have the same complications including diabetic ketoacidosis, which is when the body uses fat as fuel because insulin is not present in the body.

Hypoglycemia is when the blood glucose levels are low in the body, and if a diabetic losses consciousness, a hypoglycemic coma can occur. Both can be fatal if not immediately treated.

“My grandmother suffered from diabetes and died from the complications,” said Sophie Dorce, 18, a freshman general studies student from Tampa.

According to the ADA long term complications of diabetes include vascular diseases, eye complications, foot problems, skin and membrane problems and diabetic nephropathy of the kidney or nerve damage.

Blacks are at a higher risk for vascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

“A key factor to living a healthy life is having glucose control,” said Dr. Ravi S. Tak, family practitioner of Physician Associates of Florida.

The majority of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, so a diabetic needs to eat all four-food groups daily, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Tak said.

“Diet and exercise is very important when you have diabetes. It’s recommended that a diabetic work out at least three times a week, Tak said.

Contact Melissa Louis at famuanhealth@hotmail.com