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Mon May 27, 2019, 08:18 PM

Facing epidemic of amputations and death, Pacific Islanders fighting diabetes

Editor's note: Deseret News reporter Tad Walch is in the South Pacific reporting on the impact of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the trip of the faith's leader, President Russell M. Nelson, to six island nations.

PAPEETE, Tahiti Her shortness of breath, the pain in her chest and the numbness in her left arm and leg worried Maruia Teamo enough that she hesitantly tried to prepare better meals for her family.

Her husband hated it. So every time the 39-year-old mother made a healthier meal, she also made him something he'd like. Tempted by his dinner, she always snuck some herself. She wasn't getting better. She felt alone.

Teamo hoped that would change when she signed up for a brand-new free class on healthier living last month. Instead, the class provided the scare of her life. She took a blood pressure test on the first day. Normal systolic blood pressure falls in the range of 100 to 120, and 140 is high. Teamo's systolic BP was an alarming 180.

Given that and her weight, she is at high risk of joining a vast epidemic sweeping the South Pacific, where diabetes is killing or maiming thousands each month.

Read more: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900072555/facing-epidemic-of-amputations-and-death-pacific-islanders-fighting-diabetes-pacific-tour.html

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