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If You’re a Minority, Watch Out for These Health Issues

If You’re a Minority, Watch Out for These Health Issues

Many factors affect your risk of developing diseases and health conditions. Some of them are under your control, while others are not. One fact of life that affects the health of many people in this country, and around the world, is their racial or ethnic background. That’s because some ethnic groups are more prone to developing certain diseases than others.

The reasons for differences in health risks among different ethnic groups are complex. But whatever the reasons may be, the fact remains that you should pay close attention to specific health issues depending on your ethnic background since you may be at a higher risk of developing those conditions.

Here are two serious health issues to look out for:

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Your risk of developing high blood pressure is highest if you are a non-Hispanic black.  Non-Hispanic whites have a lower risk of this condition, followed by Asian Americans and Hispanics. Gender also affects your risk of developing high blood pressure. Men are more likely to have the condition than women.

With so many people at risk for high blood pressure, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. This is an easy thing to do. Your doctor will check it during appointments and there are also blood pressure monitors you can use to check it on your own. This condition doesn’t typically cause any symptoms unless your blood pressure is very high, but it can cause damage to your heart and circulatory system without symptoms. Knowing you have the condition so you can treat it is the best way to avoid any complications.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits helps keep your blood pressure under control. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, reducing the amount of sodium you consume, exercising regularly, not smoking, limiting alcohol and reducing stress. Sometimes this is not enough to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range and medication may be needed.

Type 2 Diabetes

American Indians and Alaskan natives have the highest incidence of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. This is followed by non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans and non-Hispanic whites, in that order. Many people who have diabetes do not know they have it – and an even greater percentage of people who have prediabetes don’t know they have it. Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Testing for diabetes is done with a simple blood test. Your doctor may check your fasting blood glucose level or your A1C, which is a measure of your average blood glucose levels over the past three months. Knowing these numbers can go a long way in keeping you healthier overall, since diabetes can lead to several health issues, including heart disease, kidney disease and problems affecting your nerves, vision, feet, oral health and more.

Although there is no way to guarantee you won’t develop diabetes, there are steps you can take to make it less likely you will. These include many of the same lifestyle habits that will also help you prevent high blood pressure, such as maintaining a healthy weight, following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking and limiting alcohol. Eating less sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat may also help.

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