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African Americans and Diabetes


Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes:

  • 3.2 million or 13.3% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
  • African Americans are 1.8 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.

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications and certain populations experience an even greater threat. Good diabetes management can help reduce your risk. However many people are not even aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.

Blindness: African Americans are almost 50% as likely to develop diabetic retinopathy as non-Hispanic whites.

Kidney Disease: African Americans are 2.6 to 5.6 times as likely to suffer from kidney disease with more than 4,000 new cases of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) each year.

Amputations: African Americans are 2.7 times as likely to suffer from lower-limb amputations. Amputation rates are 1.4 to 2.7 times higher in men than women with diabetes.

Heart Disease and Stroke: Heart disease and stroke account for about 65% of deaths in people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes. The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher and the risk of death from stroke is 2.8 times higher among people with diabetes.

Men and Heart Disease: Deaths from heart disease in men with diabetes have decreased by only 13 percent compared to a 36 percent decrease in men without diabetes.

Women and Heart Disease: In women with diabetes, deaths from heart disease have increased 23 percent over the past 30 years compared to a 27 percent decrease in women without diabetes.

Nerve Damage: Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetes that affects millions of people every day. Nerves damaged by diabetic neuropathy can cause stinging or burning sensations, tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in the hands and feet. Diabetic neuropathy puts you at risk for foot injury, infection, even amputation.

Source: American Diabetes Association