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Minorities & Diabetes: October 3, 2011

Cynthia McCloud has good reason to stay healthy, she got tested for diabetes in 1997.

“Because I had a new grandchild, and I wanted to go see that child and I wasn’t feeling well.”

A simple screening revealed she had type 2 diabetes.

“They said it’s because of my ethnic background, eating habits, not getting enough exercise,” says Cynthia.

But she’s one of the lucky ones who caught the disease early.

“Diabetes has definitely become epidemic in the United States and it certainly is a significant problem for minorities because they have a lot of risk factors,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

Federal health statistics show minorities have both higher rates of diabetes and are diagnosed at later stages when the disease may be at dangerous levels.

“When they do come to the physician they often times come through an emergency room because of some sort of severe complications,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Chief among them: kidney failure. It’s almost three times higher in African Americans with diabetes. Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and African Americans also suffer high rates of eye disease and coronary artery disease. Complications that could be avoided with early detection and treatment.

“One of the classes we have at Lee Health Solutions is a 9 hour class where they take the individual in 3 hour blocks and they teach them as much as they can about diabetes, what they have to do, what they should avoid and how to stay healthy with diabetes,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Cynthia manages her disease with minimal education along with changes in diet and exercise, because there’s a lot riding on her choices.

"Oh I love those grandkids, so a lot of it has to do with those grandkids."