GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WUSA9) -- Joy Adupe has battled severe reflux, nausea, and stomach problems since she was a little girl. She's had surgery to relieve acid reflux and other traditional treatments. B Dr. Andrew Wong, MD, an integrative primary care physician, also helps her with acupuncture at the Casey Health Institute in Gaithersburg.
"With the pain and the nausea being my biggest complaint, acupuncture helps calm me down and alleviate the symptoms," says Adupe.
In fact, Joy says the placement of an acupuncture needle at a key point on her forehead can relieve her nausea in minutes. Dr. Wong says gastrointestinal problems are more common in Asian-Americans; upward of 90% are lactose intolerant and many Asian women don't get all the calcium they need. Joy's own mother has osteoporosis.
And Dr. Wong says that's not the only disease which is more prevalent in this population. Asian-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and its precursor metabolic syndrome, which also raises heart attack and stroke risk. All the while, Dr. Wong says they may look like the picture of health on the outside.
He explains, "It is the concept of skinny-fat. It is the concept of a skinny person that metabolically, has obesity or overweight even though on the surface they may not see that.... and their doctor may not see that."
Another of Dr. Wong's patients fits that profile. 62-year-old Tom Din is a life-long skier who became an instructor after he retired from the federal government. He is very active and felt physically fit, yet still suffered a stroke last summer.
Din remembers the frightening symptoms: "My left side, I couldn't use my left hand," he says.
Tom's desire to get back to skiing pushed him to attack rehabilitation as aggressively as possible after the stroke atAdventist Healthcare. Now, Dr. Wong says Tom needs to avoid many of the refined carbohydrates typical in the Asian-American diet, and opt for more fresh fruits and vegetables instead, if he wants to stay healthy.
Tom says he is ready to follow the program, so he can be back at White Tail ski resort this winter.
"You are barreling down the mountain, and you've just got gravity flowing through you," he says.
Other diseases more common in Asian-Americans include both liver and stomach cancers and hepatitis B. Dr. Wong says two million Americans are infected with hepatitis B, and half of those are Asian-American.
Whatever your ethnicity, it is important to learn how it affects your health profile and discuss specific risk factors with you medical practitioner.