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ANN ARBOR, MICH. – During African American History Month in February, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is raising awareness about the increased risk of kidney disease in African Americans, and the importance of lifestyle changes to prevent or manage it. Type 2 diabetes, meaning that blood sugar is too high, is the leading cause of kidney failure among African Americans. An estimated 4.9 million — 18.7% — of all non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Additionally, African Americans with unmanaged diabetes are four times more likely to suffer serious complications, such as blindness, kidney failure and blood vessel damage resulting in amputations.

If you have diabetes, try to do the following to prevent kidney disease and other complications:

  • Take care of yourself.
  • See a doctor regularly.
  • Control your blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
  • Keep track of your diabetes numbers – blood sugar and A1C (blood sugar level over the past three months).
  • Be active on most days of the week.
  • Eat healthier.
  • Do not smoke.

Research shows that despite the increased risk of diabetes and kidney disease in African Americans, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. Reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% by losing weight, eating less fat and fewer calories, and being active for 150 minutes a week.

Ask your doctor if you are at risk for diabetes. If you do not have a doctor because you do not have health care coverage, consider applying for health care coverage, including Medicaid, through your local Department of Health and Human Services office. You can also apply online at mibridges.michigan.gov or call 1-855-789-5610.

This message is supported by the NKFM’s REACH grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  REACH is a CDC-administered national program to remove barriers to health improvement caused by race or ethnicity, education, income, location, or other social factors.

Through this project, the NKFM encourages everyone to “REACH Your Best Health”. For more information, visit REACHhealthMI.org.

African American family