by Shera Strange, Contributing Writer
Living the high life and enjoying a high credit score are great things to have but high blood sugar? That is a definite NO! Between the constant bad news and COVID-19, it is easy to feel powerless and afraid. Right now, things are challenging and scary for those living with diabetes.
Diabetes is one of the harshest health conditions that affect African Americans. Obese African Americans are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. All are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. According to the CDC, blacks have the highest prevalence of obesity. Losing 10-15 pounds can make a significant difference.
So, who has diabetes? In an August 2020 report by the CDC and U.S. Census Bureau, a total of 34.2 million people has diabetes. Also, even more shocking is the 88 million people who have prediabetes. While 26.9 million are currently diagnosed, 7.3 million remain undiagnosed.
- 14.7% of American Indians/Alaska natives
- 12.5% of Hispanics
- 11.7% of non-Hispanic blacks
- 9.2% of Asian Americans
- 7.5% of non-Hispanic whites 18 and older
Why are these groups more at risk? Environmental and genetic factors are the cause. Understanding your risk factors for diabetes is vital towards early diagnosis and prevention. This is key to prevent the progression of the disease.
Diabetes and COVID-19
Individuals with diabetes are more likely to have severe symptoms and complications when infected with ANY virus. COVID-19 is no different. With African Americans being at higher risk for contracting coronavirus, it is imperative to seek treatment to regulate blood sugar levels. One of the risk factors of contracting COVID-19 is having a High BMI (Body Mass Index) or being overweight.
Your risk of getting extremely ill from COVID-19 is likely to be lower if your diabetes is under control. Having heart disease or other conditions in addition to diabetes could worsen the chance of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.
There are many factors you can control, and prediabetes is one. Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than average but not yet at the levels diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The likelihood of having Prediabetes increases over the age of 45, if you are a person of color, have a family history of diabetes, are obese, have high blood pressure, and are physically inactive.
What can you do?
Prediabetes has no symptoms, so you may have it and not know it. Annual physical exams and blood work can detect if you have prediabetes. For some, early treatment and lifestyle changes can bring blood sugar levels to a moderate range. This prevents prediabetes from becoming Type 2. Check with your doctor if you think you may have Prediabetes or Diabetes.
If diagnosed with diabetes, it is imperative to revise your diet, take medications, and integrate physical activity into your daily routine. Physical activity is essential because as the body becomes more active, the body’s cells become sensitive to insulin. Regular exercise can help put you back in control of your life.
There is no better time than American Diabetes Month to become more aware of this disease. With advancements in medicine, education, and awareness, you can prevent diabetes or manage it properly. Making healthy choices and lifestyle changes can be the difference between living the high life or living with diabetes.
Contributing Writer, Shera Strange is a Certified Fitness Professional. Find her on social media @StrangeFitnessInc and www.strangefitness.com