Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Disparities Persist

Expanding health insurance may help reduce racial, socioeconomic differences

TUESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the fact that among patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes there have been improvements in the control of blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels since 1999, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences persist, according to a study published in the April 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

J. Michael McWilliams, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from the 1999 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to look at blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol control among adults aged 40 to 85 years comprising 4,521 subjects with hypertension, 1,733 with diabetes, and 2,928 with coronary heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

Although there was little change in the disease control gaps between different racial and ethnic groups, the gap narrowed in the patients aged 65 years and above who were covered by Medicare, the researchers found. For example, differences in systolic blood pressure between black and white subjects were smaller in the 65 to 85 years age group than they were in the 40 to 64 years age group, the investigators noted.

"Because age eligibility for Medicare coverage was associated with significant narrowing of differences in disease control, expanding insurance coverage before age 65 years may reduce racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences in important health outcomes for adults with cardiovascular disease and diabetes," the authors conclude.

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