Beat it

Beat it

Doctors: Diabetes growing in Latino community



Todd Connor

Health experts say Latinos are nearly twice as likely as the majority of Americans to have diabetes and deaths linked to the disease.
Hilda Diaz, of Indianapolis, has suffered from diabetes for more than 15 years and even had a mini-stroke.
"I had pain in my belly and I (went) to the emergency room 17 times but nobody could tell me (anything). I said, 'Oh my God, I will die,'" Diaz said.
She eventually came to Alivio Medical Center on Indy's east side and for the first time, her diabetes is under control.
Fridays and Saturdays at the center are known as "diabetes days" when the staff focuses primarily on diabetes diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Alfredo Lopez-Yunez said.
"It's an explosion of new diagnoses. We diagnose maybe 10 new patients a month, which is staggering in this relatively small practice. Even more concerning is that we're diagnosing them at an earlier age," Lopez-Yunez said.
Dr. Lopez-Yunez said things have changed dramatically since he was in medical school and that diabetes among Latinos in their 20s and 30s would have been unheard of one or two decades ago.
"Right now I'm diagnosing people with Type 2 diabetes in their 20s, 21, 24 years of age, and this disease is going to be with them forever," he said.
The American Diabetes Association said nearly 13-percent of Latinos in the U.S. have diabetes, and many don't even know they have it.
Lopez credits increasing awareness with getting more Latinos to come forward and get checked out for the disease. He also says beating diabetes is about a change in nutrition and lifestyle, something he tries to explain to his patients.
"Dr. Lopez was telling me we all need to change our lifestyle. We need to eat better and we need to get more exercise," Diaz said. "He told me you have to walk 30 minutes and you have to lift, 5 pounds, you know, and that's it."
A critical component of fighting diabetes is early detection; 80 million people in the U.S. have pre-diabetes, medical experts said.