Veterans with diabetes carry heavy health burden

Reported by Susan Aldridge, PhD, medical journalist

A study of a large group of veterans with diabetes reveals that many of them suffer from other diseases and often need hospital treatment.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine looked at a 33,481 veterans who had diabetes and found they carry a heavy burden of ill health. For instance, 73 per cent had high blood pressure and 35 per cent some form of heart trouble. And nearly a third had alcohol or drug abuse problems, while 23 per cent had a psychotic disorder - all of which would make self-management of diabetes difficult.

Over a course of a year, the average patient in this study spent eight days in hospital and 23 days in outpatient services. Of the 40 per cent of those hospitalized one or more times during the year, three quarters had multiple hospital stays. The participants also had a significant death rate - with a one in 20 chance of dying during a given year.

These results accord with similar studies on veterans health although they may be worse than for people with diabetes as a whole. The individuals in this study were chosen from those hospitalized for an acute diabetes-related condition and over half were aged 65 or older.

American Journal of Managed Care February 2003


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