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Study: Potassium levels may be insight to racial disparity among diabetics

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that potassium levels in the blood may explain a racial disparity among Type 2 diabetes patients.

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, among 12,000 participants, more than 2,000 African-Americans in the study had lower average serum potassium levels than the more than 9,000 whites in the study. They also were twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

What’s more, the researchers noted, serum potassium appeared to be a novel risk factor for the disorder that may explain some of the racial disparity in diabetes risk.

The data was collected from the "Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study," information collected from 1987 and 1996.

"This research doesn’t mean people should run out and start taking potassium supplements," said Hsin-Chieh "Jessica" Yeh, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an author of the study. "But we now know lower serum potassium is an independent risk factor for diabetes and that African-Americans have, on average, lower potassium levels than whites. What remains to be seen is if increasing potassium levels through diet or supplementation can prevent the most common form of diabetes."

Nearly 13% of African-Americans older than 20 years are living with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Walgreens joins CCA

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Walgreens on Friday joined the Care Continuum Alliance, an alliance of more than 200 stakeholders providing services across the continuum of care — from wellness and prevention to chronic condition management and complex care management.

"Our mission every day is to provide customers and patients support to help them live a ‘well’ life," stated Walgreens chief medical officer Cheryl Pegus. "With more than 8,500 points of care, including Walgreens drug stores within three miles of 63% of the U.S. population, we are uniquely positioned to serve as a true community healthcare resource. Together, our pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, home care nurses and other healthcare professionals provide guidance and solutions to improve disease prevention, adherence to medications and chronic disease management for tens of millions of patients each year."

"[Walgreens’] work to promote healthful lifestyles and empower consumers to reduce risk aligns with our mission to improve care quality and value, particularly for people with or at risk of chronic disease,” stated Tracey Moorhead, Care Continuum president and CEO.

The Care Continuum Alliance has focused considerable effort in recent years on improving employee health and productivity, particularly through research on outcomes measurement. Its Outcomes Guidelines project has produced consensus clinical and financial measures for wellness and population health management programs, as well as guidance on such other key outcomes as medication adherence. The Care Continuum Alliance also has advocated successfully for greater support of wellness and prevention in federal programs and in the private market.

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Improving weather, tax returns benefit Fred’s

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS — Fred’s on Thursday posted a 2% increase in sales totaling $153.6 million for the four weeks ended Feb. 26. Comparable-store sales for the month rose 0.9% versus an increase of 2% in the same period last year.

"February sales were on plan in spite of harsh weather early in the month,” stated Fred’s CEO Bruce Efird. “As February progressed, with the weather rebounding and customers beginning to receive tax refunds, both customer traffic and sales improved. Overall, we were pleased to see strengthening sales in the last half of February, reflecting a balanced mix of increased customer traffic and an uptick in the average purchase amount."

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