Ethnic Groups Similar in Rates of Diabetic Complications in Study

Geriatric conditions and and diabetic complications among older, insured patients with diabetes did not vary significantly by ethnicity in a new study. The results were published in the Journal of Aging and Health.

The study evaluated 115,538 patients aged ≥60 years old with diabetes, who were part of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. Of the study population, 32% of patients had a diagnosis of at least one diabetes-related complication in the past two years, such as advanced diabetic eye disease (21%) and heart failure (13%). Other complications such as myocardial infarction, stroke, end-stage renal disease, serious hypoglycemic events, and amputation were less common (2%).

About 88% of of the study population had at least one geriatric condition in the past two years. Common conditions included chronic pain (74%), polypharmacy (57%), and depression (17%). Other relatively uncommon conditions included urinary incontinence and falls (7% each), dementia (2%), and underweight (<1%).

The highest prevalence of diabetes was found in Pacific Islanders (18%), followed by Filipinos and South Asians (16%), African American and Latinos (14%), Japanese (10%), Chinese (8%), and whites (7%). While there may be noticeable differences in the prevalence of diabetes among ethnic groups, the prevalence of diabetic complications and geriatric conditions was not apparent.

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The rate of having at least one diabetes complication did not significantly differ among ethnic groups when comparing African-Americans and mixed race-ethnicity (38%), Latinos (32%), whites (31%), Filipinos (29%), and Asians (28%). Similarly, the rate of having any geriatric condition did not significantly differ among ethnic groups when comparing African-Americans and whites (89%), Latinos (88%), Filipinos (3%), and Asians (81%).

Results from this study support previous research published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed the near disappearance of racial disparities between black and white seniors covered by Kaiser Permanente in the Western United States in regards to cardiac risks and diabetes markers–though these disparities still persist in other regions of the country.

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