Objective: To estimate mortality rates and risk factors for mortality in a low-socioeconomic status (SES) population of African Americans and whites with diabetes.
Research design and methods: We determined mortality among African Americans and whites aged 40-79 years with (n = 12,498) and without (n = 49,914) diabetes at entry into a cohort of participants recruited from government-funded community health centers. Multivariable Cox analysis was used to estimate mortality hazard ratios (HRs) (95% CI) among those with versus those without diabetes and among those with diabetes according to patient characteristics.
Results: During follow-up (mean 5.9 years), 13.5% of those with and 7.3% of those without diabetes died. All-cause mortality risk was higher among those with versus without diabetes for both African Americans (HR 1.84 [95% CI 1.71-1.99]) and whites (1.80 [1.58-2.04]), although among those with diabetes, mortality was lower among African Americans than whites (0.78 [0.69-0.87]). Mortality risk increased with duration of diabetes and was greater among patients on insulin therapy and reporting histories of cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, and stroke. The HRs associated with these multiple risk factors tended to be similar by sex and race, with the exception of a differentially higher impact of prevalent CVD on mortality among African Americans (interaction P value = 0.03), despite a lower baseline prevalence of CVD.
Conclusions: In this population with similarly low SES and access to health care, strong and generally similar predictors of mortality were identified for African Americans and whites with diabetes, with African Americans at a moderately but significantly lower mortality risk.