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DIABETES COMPLICATIONS AND OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Diabetes is associated with microvascular complications, including eye disease (retinopathy), kidney disease (nephropathy), and nerve damage, especially in the extremities (neuropathy); and with macrovascular complications in the heart (coro­ nary artery disease; Nathan, 1993). Because of the frequent delay in diagnosis, a significant percentage of patients will have already developed diabetic complications before the initiation of treatment. According to data from NHANES II, Harris and M odan (1994) reported that individuals with newly detected diabetes had abnormal heart findings (22%), angina (10%), peripheral vascular disease (8%), and stroke (6%). In other studies, retinopathy, a microvascular disorder of the eye that is a common complication of diabetes, was present in as many as 29% of patients at the tim e of diagnosis (Harris et al., 1992). Little is known about the prevalence of these complications specifically in African American women. For the African American population as a whole, the incidence and prevalence o f vascular complications from diabetes appears to be higher than in whites, and the diabetic mortality rate o f African Americans is almost twice that of white Americans (Harris, 1990).