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10 facts about diabetes and kidney disease in U.S.-Latinos


Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the single leading cause of kidney failure in adults1. U.S. Latinos have a high rate of diabetes. This increases their chances of developing serious complications such as chronic kidney disease2, heart disease and strokes. However, when individuals with diabetes follow their treatment plan carefully and keep their blood sugar and blood pressure under control, they can greatly reduce their risk of having these complications.


1.  Of 30 million Latinos, about 2.5 million (9.5 percent) have been diagnosed with diabetes. About one-third of the cases of diabetes in Latinos are undiagnosed.1


2. On average, Latinos are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Latino whites of similar age. 1


3. Diabetes is even more common among middle-aged and older Latinos. About 25 to 30 percent of those 50 or older have diabetes.


4.  Diabetes is twice as common in Mexican-American and Puerto Rican adults as in non-Latino whites. The prevalence of diabetes in Cuban-Americans is lower, but still higher than that of non-Latino whites.


5.  About 90 to 95 percent of Latinos with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes usually develops in adults over 45, but is becoming more common in younger people. It occurs because the body is unable to use insulin properly. It is treated with diet, exercise, diabetes pills and, sometimes, injected insulin.


6.  About five percent of Latinos with diabetes have type 1 diabetes, which usually develops before age 20, and is always treated with insulin injections.


7.  Diabetes can be diagnosed by: a fasting blood glucose test of 126 or greater; a nonfasting blood glucose test of 200 or greater in people who have symptoms of diabetes; or an abnormal oral glucose tolerance test with two-hour glucose of 200 or greater. A positive test should be confirmed on another day, using any of these tests. 


8.  The risk factors for diabetes include: a family history of diabetes; obesity; physical inactivity; or unbalanced diet.


9.  Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease in the U.S. Because Latinos have an increased risk for developing diabetes and kidney disease, they should have the following tests for early detection of kidney disease:

  • blood pressure measurement                

  • a urine test for protein

  • a blood test to estimate glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a measure of kidney function.  


10.  Studies have shown that early detection and treatment can halt or slow the progression of diabetic kidney disease. Treatment includes careful control of blood sugar and blood pressure. Special high blood pressure medications called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs) help to preserve kidney function. When someone loses 85 percent or more of his or her kidney function, dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant are required to sustain life. 


For more information on diabetes and kidney disease, visit www.kidney.org.


Sources of Facts and Statistics:

1. “Diabetes in Hispanic Americans,” National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (www.niddk.nih.gov).

2. “Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease,” National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org)





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