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Older Blacks, Latinos Struggle With Diabetes Control
Date:9/27/2007

Their levels of blood sugar tend to be higher than for whites, study finds

THURSDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Black Americans and Latinos with diabetes who take drugs to control their disease are less likely to have their blood sugar under control than whites, a new study finds.

Two factors appear to account for some of this difference in blood sugar control: adherence to medications and emotional responses to having diabetes, according to the study.

"A lot of diabetes outcomes depend on what patients do in their everyday life," said lead researcher Dr. Michele Heisler, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Taking medication regularly, eating a healthy diet and exercising, and monitoring blood sugar levels are all critical, Heisler said. "In addition, people who have higher levels of emotional stress related to diabetes fare worse," she said.

For the study, Heisler's team collected data on 1,199 people aged 55 and older with diabetes who participated in the Health and Retirement Study. These people had their blood sugar measured using the A1C test, which gives an average blood sugar level for the past three months. The recommend A1C level for people with diabetes is under 7 percent. People without diabetes usually have an A1C level less than 6 percent.

When the researchers looked at diabetics taking medications to control their blood sugar, they found a significant difference in A1C levels for whites, blacks and Latinos. Whites had an average A1C reading of 7.22 percent, but for blacks it was 8.07 percent, and for Latinos it was 8.14 percent.

There was an even larger difference among the 286 people between 55 and 64 years old, making them too young for Medicare eligibility. The average A1C reading for whites was 7.46 percent, for blacks it was 8.96 percent and for Latinos it was 8.91 percent. There was less of a difference in A1C
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