DIABETES & HEART DISEASE - THE SILENT KILLERS
Diabetes. Heart disease. They're two of the biggest health hazards in our communities - and you can prevent them. Only you have the power to get your health back on track. Learn more about how to control and prevent some of the most common deadly diseases, Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease:
Millions of people have Type-2 diabetes, and many of them don't take the disease seriously enough. However, diabetes is serious, it's deadly, and according to Dr. Andrea Pennington, in most cases, it can be prevented.
1. THE FACTS
- 17 million Americans have diabetes, and one-third of them don't even know it.
- Diabetes kills more people each year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
- Every year, one million new cases are diagnosed.
- Experts are alarmed by the increase in Type-2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of all cases.
- 13% of African Americans have diabetes and African Americans are twice as likely to develop the disease.
- More and more children are being diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, something unheard of a decade ago.
2. WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. Diabetes falls into two main categories: type 1, which usually begins during childhood or adolescence, and type 2, the most common form of the disease, usually occurring after age 45, but is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
3. HOW DOES IT AFFECT AFRICAN AMERICANS?
Approximately 2.8 million, or 13%, of all African Americans have diabetes, however, one-third of them do not know it. Its major complications are blindness, kidney disease, amputations, heart attack and stroke. Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States, and it has no cure.
- African Americans are 2 times more likely to have diabetes than Non-Hispanic Whites.
- Twenty-five percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes.
- One in four African American women over 55 years of age has diabetes.
5. WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
According to Dr. Andrea Pennington, early symptoms include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Constant hunger
- Yeast infections in women
- Stomach pains
Diabetes is often a silent killer, as many people don't recognize their symptoms until they've become serious.
6. RISK FACTORS AND COMPLICATIONS
One of the strongest risk factors for developing diabetes is obesity. Eighty percent of Type-2 diabetes sufferers are overweight. Among the many complications of diabetes are:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Amputation of limbs
1. THE FACTS
Heart disease is striking in epidemic proportions. Become knowledgeable about this silent killer too, as it might just save your life. It is the number-one killer of women in America, claiming ten times more women than breast cancer each year, and more than all other cancers combined.
Heart disease refers to the blockages of the arteries. Dr. Pennington says to think of clogged arteries being "sticky" - and unable to let blood flow freely.
Dr. Judith Reichman says that it is estimated that one out of every two women will die from heart disease, and that one in ten women aged 45 to 64 already suffers from some form of heart disease.
According to one study, nearly one fourth of women who died of heart disease were between the ages of 35 and 44.
Heart disease can threaten anybody, although the symptoms are often ignored or misdiagnosed.
The good news? Eating right, nurturing your emotional health, and exercise can make a huge difference. Staying fit is important, but yo-yo dieting actually increases your risk of heart disease, says one study.
Get some shut-eye: A national study found that people who got less than five hours of sleep a night over a decade had a 39% greater risk of heart attack.
Mental health matters, too. Columbia University found that people who suffered depression during their 20s increased their risk of heart disease in their 50s.
Dr. Mehmet Oz says that women's hearts are physically different than men's, and that if you look at the arteries that provide blood flow to the heart muscle, men's are like rigid pipes, while women's are soft. Only 30% of women who have heart attacks have calcium in their arteries, whereas 90% of men who have heart attacks have calcium in their arteries. Therefore, heart disease is a different disease for women than it is for men.
2. WHAT AFRICAN-AMERICANS SHOULD KNOW
According to Dr. Andrea Pennington, eating right and lowering stress levels is important for all people - but especially African-Americans. That's because African-Americans are more at risk for heart disease than Caucasians. The prevalence of high blood pressure in African-Americans is the highest in the world.
By the time African-Americans are in their late 60s, 79% will have developed high blood pressure, according to Dr. Judith Reichman.
If an African-American has a heart attack, he or she is 69% more likely to die of that heart attack than a Caucasian, according to Dr. Reichman.
Heart disease is deadly, but it can be prevented. Everyday lifestyle choices make a huge impact on beating heart disease. The great news is that with the right changes, it's possible to reverse some of its effects.
- Smoking constricts blood vessels in the brain, putting you at a higher risk for stroke.
- High cholesterol builds up inside the walls of arteries, clogging them and constricting blood flow.
- High stress and/or a sedentary lifestyle contribute to the build-up of cholesterol inside the walls of arteries too.
We've heard it before, but that's because it's true: Diet and exercise can make an enormous difference in your health - but 38% of American adults do not engage in any physical activity! Just a few minutes each day can lead to improved health. Because exercise dilates blood vessels, it makes the heart work less - and that's reason enough to get your whole body working!
5. ARE YOU AT RISK?
There are four key numbers every person should know about their body to help prevent heart disease and diabetes.
- Blood sugar or blood glucose level: Ideally, it should be between 65 and 110.
- Blood pressure: 120 over 80 is good, although experts are now pushing for even lower numbers.
- Cholesterol level: The total should be under 200. The "good" cholesterol (or HDL) should be over 40 - the higher the better. The "bad" cholesterol (LDL) should be under 100.
- Weight: If you want to focus on lowering one of these four numbers, start here. If you reduce your weight, the other areas will follow.
6. DON'T WAIST AWAY
A good, quick indicator of whether you may be at risk of developing heart disease or Type-2 diabetes is your waist measurement. If you're a woman and your waist measures over 34-1/2 inches, you are assuming a higher risk. Men at higher risk have a waist measurement of 40 inches or more.
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