African-American Women at a High Risk for Diabetes and Diabetic Complications

Diabetes affects millions of Americans every year. It is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body has trouble metabolizing glucose, either because there is not insulin being produced or because the body’s cells have become resistant to insulin. A group that is at especially at a high risk are African American women. In fact, about one fourth of all African Women older than 55 have type II diabetes. This rate is quite disproportionate in comparison with the rate in Caucasian women, which is more than two times lower. Studies have been done to find the racial factors that may be contributing to this higher rate of diabetes. Not only is diabetes more prevalent among African Americans, the most severe complications derived from diabetes are also more prevalent among people of this race. These complications are diabetic blindness, the loss of an extremity, and kidney problems and eventual kidney failure.

Studies have found that a large proportion of African Americans are carriers of a genetic market that can impair their sugar metabolism. This is one of the most important markers that suggest a predisposition for diabetes. Obesity is also quite higher in African American women; obesity is the single most important risk factor in type II diabetes. This correlation between diabetes and obesity has been extensively documented. African American women tend to be more overweight than Caucasian females, which also suggest a predisposition for diabetes. Not only is the obesity important, the type of obesity that occurs in African American women is also quite worrying. While Caucasian women tend to carry the bulk of their fat in their thighs and in their rear end, African American women tend to store their fat in their abdominal area. This has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease as well. Culturally speaking, diet and the lack of exercise in African American women also play a large role.

Diabetes management in African American women does not differ significantly from traditional ways of handling this disease. A drastic lifestyle change will have to be in order, especially a strict diet with regular exercise and glucose monitoring. Insulin may also be necessary, depending on each individual case. It is probable that some kind of medication will be prescribed if the diabetes has gone past the pre-diabetes stage. In African American women, it may also be necessary to address all the cultural and social issues that may be contributing towards the higher rate of obesity and predisposition to diabetes. To avoid the worst complications of diabetes, an effort will have to be made to engage the patient in physical activity and finding time to exercise and eat right.

Type II diabetes has now reached epidemic proportions among African American women. They are one of the groups that is most at risk from this devastating disease. Preventive measures, such as education about a healthier lifestyle are probably the best approach towards eradicating this disease in this part of the population. The racial predisposition is clearly there, both biologically and socially. In the future, both of these issues will have to be addressed.

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