Social and environmental determinants of health can be just as impactful as genetic ones, yet there is limited research on how these affect outcomes of chronic disease. Diabetes, for example, is a highly prevalent chronic condition, with 415 million people currently being affected worldwide. The most common form of this disease is type 2 diabetes, which is seen mostly in people aged 45 and older. Complications of this chronic health condition include cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke), kidney failure, and eye damage. Some diabetic patient’s retinopathy (eye disease caused by damage to the blood vessels that nourish the back of the eye) and nephropathy (kidney disease) which can worsen their quality of life. Diabetic retinopathy and nephropathy are preventable complication, possible by controlling diabetes better and having regular health checks.
Research suggests that racial and economic disparities in patients with diabetes may play a role in the outcomes of diabetes, especially with regards to complications. HEAL EN-bassador Layla Moussavi and HEAL President Arman Lateef hope to identify social and environmental determinants of eye and kidney health outcomes among diabetic patients who seek care at a busy clinical practice in Northern Virginia. By identifying such precursors of bad outcomes, they hope to highlight how to prevent them and advocate for such services within their community.