By: Lorraine E. McKinney, D.P.M.
Diabetes is a disease that often “runs in the family”. We have called it “borderline diabetes” or “sugar”. While the African-American community is touched by this disease, it affects our county at an astronomical rate. 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, while 21.0 million people are diagnosed and 8.1 million people are undiagnosed. With doctors and clinics in many neighborhoods and even with the world’s largest medical center in our city, diabetes remains at high levels in the Greater Houston area. One study found that one in ten Houstonians has diabetes. Prediabetes is a newer diagnosis that means that the blood glucose is high, but not high enough to be considered fully diabetic. The numbers of people with prediabetes is growing as well, and untreated, this often leads the patient directly to a diabetes diagnosis.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and is often linked to being hereditary. When blood glucose (blood sugar) is uncontrolled, it can lead to a multitude of complications including blindness, hypertension, kidney disease, neuropathy (nerve disease), and/or lower extremity amputations. However, when people have their diabetes in a controlled state, the risk for developing complications is reduced.
With the health disparities that plague our community, some people, despite efforts of health care personnel, are still unaware of their diabetes risk level. On Saturday, March 25, 2017, the members of Acres of Angels coordinated the Diabetes Walk in Acres Homes at Lincoln Park. The event involved a walk on the track at the park and fitness events, health care professionals, vendors and fun in the park’s recreation center. Additional activities included Zumba ®, Line Dancing, and Chair Volleyball. Over one hundred and fifty participants joined together to engage in diabetes awareness.
Why is this so important? Because it was the vision of Ms. Edna Griggs and the Acres of Angels to organize and execute the Diabetes Walk. It was not “big pharma” or hosted by large, corporate entities. It was hosted by community members and local entrepreneurs who took time to share information regarding diabetes.
Events like this are necessary in our communities to empower us with the information to live healthier lives. It takes family members sharing their medical history with those younger than them, so they can be prepared for possible diseases they may have in the future. It takes healthy lifestyles, not only when people are in their senior years, but also while people are young. It takes checking your blood pressure regularly, and taking your medicine on time. It takes eating less processed food and looking for other food options that are fresh and healthy. It takes regular doctor visits, adequate sleep, stress relief, and exercise. All these things can help reduce or eliminate your risk for certain diseases, including diabetes.
More information about diabetes can be found on www.diabetes.org, including a free and confidential Diabetes Risk Test that can be taken online. March 28, 2017 was Diabetes Alert Day. Coordinated by the American Diabetes Association, this event brings specific awareness to the risk of diabetes.
Dr. Lorraine E. McKinney, D.P.M., a podiatrist, has been serving the foot care needs of patients for over 17 years. Dr. McKinney is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University and the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. A family connection to diabetes sparked her interest in healthcare at an early age. That interest blossomed to a strong desire to prevent lower extremity amputations in patients with diabetes and/or peripheral vascular disease. Dr. McKinney’s clinical experience includes treating with patients diagnosed with comorbidities including diabetes and heart disease in various clinical settings.