Nov 15

National Diabetes Awareness Month

Posted on November 15, 2017 at 1:42 PM by Dr. Swannie Jett

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. In this post, statistics about diabetes and available resources in Brookline will be shared.

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is predominantly seen in children and young adults, while Type 2 diabetes is seen in adults, obese individuals, individuals with a family history of diabetes, or individuals with no active lifestyles. Common symptoms of diabetes include excess thirst, fatigue, rashes, frequent urination, blurry eyesight, and loss of weight. Getting a blood test which assesses the A1C, the hemoglobin of the blood, confirms whether one does really have diabetes.  A normal A1C percentage is below 5.7%, prediabetes percentage ranges between 5.7-6.4%, and diabetes percentage is above 6.7%. It is unknown what the exact cause of diabetes, but some factors include family history, genetics, inactive lifestyles, and having excess body fat.

Killing about 80,000 people per year, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, according to 2015 National Center for Health Statistics data. The latest 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report states that more than 114 million people in the US (greater than 1/3 of the US population) have prediabetes or diabetes, of which 4% had Type 1 diabetes. In Massachusetts, 8.9% of the residents have been diagnosed with diabetes in 2015, compared to just 3.8% of residents in 1993.

Every year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes and 7.2 million are undiagnosed; Diabetes affects various populations in many ways. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) collected data to examine how on the age-adjusted diabetes prevalence in adults aged 20 years or older, is different among various groups. Native Americans had the highest prevalence at 33%. Following Native Americans, African-Americans had the 2nd high prevalence at 12.6%. Hispanic-Americans had a similar prevalence as African-Americans at 11.8%.

In addition, the reason why some groups are affected differently could be attributed to factors such as the environment, social and economic status, genetics, as well as health care access. Another reason why there is a high diabetes rate is due to food insecurity. Food insecurity, is when certain groups don’t have access to healthy food options, this is a public health issue.  CDC states that people with prediabetes or diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart disease, stroke, eye problems, and kidney damage.  Studies show that the risk of diabetes was about 50% higher in houses where there was food insecurity present, compared to other households; Therefore, it is essential that everyone is able to have access to healthy foods.

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent diabetes from developing, or manage diabetes. Especially in adults, diabetes can be prevented with routine exercise, healthy eating, and managing the weight. In Brookline, there are a lot of opportunities for residents to exercise and eat healthy. For instance, there are many yoga studios and gyms, as well as restaurants that offer healthy options.

It is better to start now rather than later.  One ounce of water is still better than a pound of chocolate cake!
Oct 31

Domestic Violence Month

Posted on October 31, 2017 at 5:49 PM by Dr. Swannie Jett

Every day in Junior High I walked to Juliette G. Lowe School.  Along the way, I picked up two friends with whom I had a crush on Evette O’Neal and Marena Haywood.  We had a special bond throughout Junior High.  Marena and I attended Paul Robeson High school together and Evette chose another neighborhood school.  Marena wanted to be a ballet dancer and I would watch her practice for hours. I wanted to play football and she would attend to be supportive of me.  In October, Paul Robeson always played rival Tilden High School which had beaten us three years in a row.  The Paul Robeson Football team was a power house in Class 5A so this was abnormal.  I promised Marena I would have the best game of my senior year and that I would score a touchdown.  She seemed excited and promised to attend.  She mentioned something about visiting a boyfriend and ending the relationship with him.  I thought about it for a minute, asked her how old he was and told her to be careful because he was significantly older.  As we departed I said I would see her at the game.  In the first half of the game I thought I was jinxed.  I made several mental mistakes uncommon to my play.  I looked in the stands for my friend, but didn’t see her.  In the second half, I finally scored a few times and looked to the stands for approval, but to no avail.  I still didn’t see my friend.  We won the game 34-0. After the game, I went back to my neighborhood and was informed something was wrong with Marena.  I rushed to the hospital in disbelief.  She was on life support and fighting for her life after being stabbed multiple times by her boyfriend.  Marena Haywood was taken off life-support a few days later. 

Since that cold winter day in October 1985, Evette O’Neal and I have accomplished many things in life.  I would have loved to have seen my best friend Marena Haywood dancing in a ballet today.  I was hurt for many years about the void left behind.  I haven’t written or spoke about this much until this very day.  I still miss my dear friend and it’s hard to comprehend why someone would commit such a terrible crime.  We didn’t have any campaigns or increase awareness in our neighborhoods, because it wasn’t talked about in the community.  Domestic violence affects everyone and it unnecessarily robs society when people don’t stand up against it.   If you notice the signs of domestic violence, please say something and alert the authorities.  It may save someone’s life. 

This is dedicated to the memory of my BF

                                                                                Marena Haywood

Oct 05

Who Will Die Next? Gun Violence is a Contagious Disease

Posted on October 5, 2017 at 3:25 PM by Dr. Swannie Jett

A crisis is playing out on the streets of America’s communities. Gun violence is a major public health epidemic and a leading cause of premature death. The issue of gun violence was thrust into the national spotlight once again on Oct. 1, when a gunman killed 59 and injured more than 500 at a music festival on the Las Vegas strip, drawing worldwide media attention.  Let us not forget we are still grieving from the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando.

Seventy-seven percent of mass killings involve a gun. According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), every year we lose over 30,000 people from firearm-related violence and an additional 180,000 suffer from non-fatal injuries. In 2015, more than 370 mass shootings occurred in the United States killing more than 475 people. It’s important to conduct research on health status of each community living with gun violence and its impact on housing, education and mental health.  

Most people who are injured after being shot will have a long-term emotional sequela, so that’s another 60,000 annually with a long-term mental illness, psychological distress. These numbers do not include family members, or the family members of the loved ones who died unexpectedly as the result of a traumatic event. Individuals that experience gun violence will become desensitized to violence over time. This doesn’t include the magnitude families deal with from homicides, suicides or police violence in urban communities.  Grief teams need to be trained within communities to heal them.  We need to deploy grief teams to include mental health, public health, and social workers to use ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) to reverse trends in communities.

Furthermore, as a Chicago native, I know firsthand that many Chicagoans fear for their life each day. In 2016, Chicago’s killings increased by 58 percent to 745 total murders. Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the nation. But, this demonstrates we have a deeper problem in this nation concerning gun violence. We have a major epidemic that’s becoming more destructive to our fabric of life than Ebola. We need to treat gun violence as a contagious disease. Many of the gunmen shoot because they have either been in a poor emotional state, distressed, have a mental illness, or do not have stable lives (whether it is family life or work life).  

Gun violence is not inevitable, but It can be prevented through a comprehensive public health approach that keeps families and communities safe. Here are some recommendations to eradicate gun violence: (1) conduct surveillance to track firearm-related deaths, determine causes, and assess intervention methods; (2) identify risk factors associated with gun violence (e.g., poverty, education and mental health)and resilience or protective factors that guard against violence (e.g., youth access to trusted adults); (3) develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to decrease risk factors and build resilience; (4) institutionalize successful prevention strategies; (5) conduct research and assist families dealing with violence & its impact on future violence; and (6) ban assault weapons. We are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not on our streets where these types of weapons exist.

An estimated 270 million to 310 million firearms are in circulation in the United States. Approximately 323.1 million people live in the United States; that means there is nearly one firearm for every American.

It’s time for Congress, States, and Cities to begin conducting research on firearm violence. It’s time for us to improve background checks and question why we are selling assault weapons. I support an individual’s right to own and protect him or herself. But, if we avoid change the only question left is: who will die next?