Sunday, November 7, 2010
Diabetics of Haitian descent may have a tougher time controlling their blood sugar than their African-American and white counterparts
A study looked at blood-sugar control among more than 2,600 diabetes patients who received primary-care treatment. Researchers found that the 715 patients of Haitian descent generally had less control over their blood-sugar levels, as reflected by measurement of a substance in the blood called hemoglobin A1C. Hemoglobin A1C levels are linked with a person's average blood sugar levels over the previous two to three months. On average, Haitian patients' A1C was 8.2%, versus 7.7% among African American patients, and 7.5% among white patients. In general, people with diabetes are advised to keep their A1C levels at or below 7%. Blood-sugar control is key to lowering the risk of long-term diabetes complications like heart disease, kidney failure, vision loss and nerve damage throughout the body. Moreover, nearly 25% of Haitians had an A1C level above 9%, which is considered poor blood-sugar control. That compared with 18% of African Americans and 15% of whites. When the researchers accounted for factors like insurance coverage, doctor visits in the past two years and whether patients spoke English, Haitian patients were still much more likely than African Americans and whites to have an A1C level above 9%.