The ethnic diabetes gap disappears as you get older

The adult population of the United States is comprised of many different races and ethnicities, and each of those groups has unique health issues and…
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Regardless of race/ethnicity, diabetes affects all groups in the U.S. they we get older. (Shutterstock)

The adult population of the United States is comprised of many different races and ethnicities, and each of those groups has unique health issues and disparities when compared to others. For some reason, however, some of those differences for diabetic patients disappear as people become seniors, something researchers view as a positive finding.

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There are approximately 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Of those, specific races/ethnicities are affected differently. Hispanics and African Americans, for example, tend to have a higher risk and a higher prevalence of diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites. Because of this increased rate of occurrence and other factors like lack of health insurance, many minority individuals are considered more likely to suffer from diabetic complications.

Despite the statistics pertaining to diabetic adults, certain diabetic complications appear to even out among different groups as people age. In the first study of its kind, research published online in the Journal of Aging and Health revealed geriatric conditions  and complications related to diabetes, such as advanced diabetic eye disease, heart failure, myocardial infarction, stroke, end stage renal disease, serious hypoglycemic events and amputation were either found to be common or uncommon irregardless of a person’s race/ethnicity.

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“For patients with diabetes, geriatric conditions such as chronic pain, depression or dementia become increasingly common with age, yet it has been unknown to what extent these conditions vary across ethnic groups,” lead author Andrew J. Karter, PhD, senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, said in a press release. “We found that geriatric conditions were more common than diabetic complications. The welcome news was that the prevalence of these conditions varied relatively little by ethnicity.”

The finds show that despite huge racial and ethnic health disparities among people in the U.S., the aging process appears to affect everyone similarly if they have diabetes.