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Rate of Hispanic diabetics’ foot amputations soar

Rate of Hispanic diabetics’ foot amputations soar

The number of adult Hispanics who were hospitalized for diabetes-related foot and leg amputations

The number of adult Hispanics who were hospitalized for diabetes-related foot and leg amputations between 2001 and 2004 increased, according to a data from the 2007 National Healthcare Disparities Report.

The report said about 86,000 Americans underwent diabetes-related amputations in 2004.

The hospitalization rate for Hispanics increased from 63 admissions per 100,000 people in 2001 to 80 admissions per 100,000 people in 2004. During the same period the rate for whites remained steady and the rate for blacks decreased.

The report also showed that in 2004, 38 percent of adult Hispanics over 40 years old with diabetes received the three recommended annual screenings, including foot and eye exams and blood sugar level checks. That percentage was 47 for both whites and blacks.

In a city where 17 percent of the population is Hispanic, Susan Bates, program coordinator for Amsterdam Memorial Hospital’s Diabetes Center, said about 25 percent of the center’s clientele are Hispanics.

Bates said she wasn’t familiar with the study, but said the number of Hispanics nationwide who are diagnosed with diabetes has increased over the last eight years.

Bates said people with diabetes are very likely to have trouble with their lower limbs. She said 50 percent of diabetics with any type of wound below the knee results in some type of infection, which could then result in amputation. Bates said that because diabetics have circulatory problems, even a small bruise could turn into an infected sore if it is in the lower limbs.

Bates said that Hispanics are typically dealing with the same issues in managing diabetes as the rest of the American population. She said learning to manage diet, exercise and correct testing is the way to live with diabetes.

She said Hispanics typically eat different foods than the majority of Americans, but she said that could be a good thing. Bates said Hispanics who come to America and try to “Americanize” their diets are at a disadvantage because traditional Hispanic food is lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber than most American food. But she also said Hispanics who adopt to the American lifestyle have more leisure time for exercise.

The Diebetes Center at Amsterdam Memorial does have diabetes outreach and educational programs specifically designed for the Hispanic population.

Julie Pierce, community outreach and education supervisor for the Diabetes Coalition, said the organization also participates in programs that target the Hispanic population with Amsterdam Memorial and Hispanic Outreach Services, which is part of Catholic Charities.

Pierce said Hispanic Outreach Services hosts between three and four health fairs in the area per year. The next fair is scheduled for May 5.

Bates said the Diabetes Center also offers a free diabetes support group on the third Wednesday of every month from 6 to 7 p.m.

“The takeaway message here is if you have diabetes it doesn’t need to progress to have your feet or legs amputated,” Bates said. “If you manage your diabetes by adopting an appropriate lifestyle you can slow down the progression of the whole disease.”

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