Background: We sought to determine the frequency and distribution of cardiovascular comorbidities in a large cohort of low-income patients with diabetes who had received primary care for diabetes at municipal health clinics.
Methods: Outpatient data from the Philadelphia Health Care Centers was linked with hospital discharge data from all Pennsylvania hospitals and death certificates.
Results: Among 10,095 primary care patients with diabetes, with a mean observation period of 4.6 years (2.8 after diabetes diagnosis), 2,693 (14.3%) were diagnosed with heart disease, including 270 (1.4%) with myocardial infarction and 912 (4.8%) with congestive heart failure. Cerebrovascular disease was diagnosed in 588 patients (3.1%). Over 77% of diabetic patients were diagnosed with hypertension. Incidence rates of new complications ranged from 0.6 per 100 person years for myocardial infarction to 26.5 per 100 person years for hypertension. Non-Hispanic whites had higher rates of myocardial infarction, and Hispanics and Asians had fewer comorbid conditions than African Americans and non-Hispanic whites.
Conclusion: Cardiovascular comorbidities were common both before and after diabetes diagnosis in this low-income cohort, but not substantially different from mixed-income managed care populations, perhaps as a consequence of access to primary care and pharmacy services.