Mt. Sinai Combats Diabetes

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(Dr. LeRoith, shown right).

The statistics nationally are alarming.

Thirty percent of the US population is estimated to be obese and a total of 60% considered overweight. The epidemic is especially pronounced in the African American and Latino populations.

One of the many diseases associated with obesity is diabetes, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, leading to amputations. To increase the hospital’s ability to reach and treat more patients, The Mt. Sinai Medical Center last year created a special Diabetes Center which is now celebrating its first year anniversary under the leadership of Dr. Derek LeRoith, who notes that the disproportionate impact of the disease on Blacks and Latinos can’t be underestimated. “The problem of obesity is much worse in the minority population,” Dr. LeRoith says. “But if you treat diabetes properly, you can increase the quality of life of the patient and you can lower the cost of the treatment.”

Twenty million Americans or 7% are estimated to be diabetic. But in Manhattan, south of 96 Street and in the affluent Upper East Side, the figure is only between 2% and 3%, Dr. LeRoith says. “If you look upwards north of 96 Street and in Spanish Harlem you have an 8-fold increase in diabetes,” rate, Dr. LeRoith adds. He attributes the alarming disparity to “living in underprivileged circumstances, cultural, economic, and educational,” factors.

According to Dr. LeRoith, about one-quarter to one-third of the patients who come to Mt. Sinai have diabetes. A major problem is that many people don’t even know that they are diabetic until they suffer their first heart attack or when it’s too late and they get a stroke. Now, at Mt. Sinai, when a doctor in the hospital’s Intensive Care unit who is treating a patient discovers that the patient has diabetes, the doctor reaches out to the Diabetes Center. One of Dr. LeRoith’s attendees and a certified diabetes educator then becomes involved the patient’s diabetes treatment and management.

Admitted patients and out-patients now get quicker follow up care and monitoring from
Mt. Sinai’s diabetes clinics without having to wait for months to return to see their doctor. Patients with Medicare can go to the Faculty Practice clinic for screening, treatment and monitoring.

Dr. LeRoith says the hospital would like to see more people come for checks ups. He notes that there is suspicion of large establishments such as Mt. Sinai within some minority communities. “One has to be aware of the disease—one has to appreciate that today we have so much medication and knowledge and that we can treat the disease 100 times better than 10 years ago,” he says. “We wish more people would come forward—we can prevent the strokes and the heart attacks and the amputations,” he stresses.

Diabetes, if left untreated, can affect the patient's kidneys, heart, feet and eyes. There’s no current cure but there are many management strategies. Anyone who has a history of diabetes in their family should go and get screened so that they can be diagnosed and treated. “We have the technology and the medication to be able to treat patients one hundred times better than we could 10 years ago,” Dr. LeRoith says.

Note To Readers: In October The Black Star News is launching “LoseTheHeavy” an anti-obesity campaign that will last for 10 months and include health/fitness seminars and public exercise sessions. If you would like to become a sponsor or if you own a restaurant that serves healthy foods, or a gym, fitness center, health club, clinic, health spa, etc. and would like to participate in our campaign by hosting a seminar or public exercise session please call (212) 481-7745 and ask for one of the coordinators, Milton Allimadi, Brenda Wyche, or Vernon Verdree. Participating establishments will be listed on a dedicated website together with the events’ dates. Our radio sponsor for the campaign is WWRL1600 AirAmerica Radio.

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