Searching Out Diabetes

Community screenings in Bronx reveal hidden risks, cases

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FRIDAY, April 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A serious hidden diabetes risk among people in the Bronx was revealed in blood test screenings done in churches, shelters, street corners and community centers, says a study in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The screenings revealed that about a quarter of the people tested had previously undiagnosed diabetes or were at high risk for developing diabetes. In addition to those newly diagnosed or high-risk people, 11 percent of those tested had already been diagnosed with diabetes.

Researchers from the Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital and Albert Einstein School of Medicine measured levels of hemoglobin A1c -- a protein related to blood sugar intolerance -- in 539 people at 20 sites in the Bronx.

Doctors can also use hemoglobin A1c levels to identify cardiovascular disease risks such as hypertension and high levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

The study found people screened in shelters had much lower hemoglobin A1c levels (lower risk of diabetes) than people screened at other locations. Those living in shelters tended to be younger than most of the other people who were screened. People in the South Bronx, which has a high poverty rate, had higher hemoglobin A1c levels than people screened in the North Bronx.

"The inner city provides an ideal environment for such screening, because the number of patients at risk is high and the population density facilitates contact with large groups in such areas as street corners," Dr. Charles Nordin, from the Jacobi Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

"Ultimately, one can hope that such interactions will bring more people into care," he said.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about diabetes.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, April 16, 2004

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