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Hurricanes Up Mortality Risk for Seniors With Diabetes

In the first month after Katrina and Rita, all-cause mortality spiked 40 percent among seniors with diabetes

TUESDAY, Sept. 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Living through a hurricane increases both the short- and long-term risk for death among seniors with diabetes, according to a study published online Sept. 23 in Diabetes Care.

Troy Quast, Ph.D., from the University of South Florida in Tampa, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed Medicare enrollment and claims data to estimate the long-term mortality effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on seniors with diabetes.

The researchers found that affected seniors had a nearly 40 percent higher all-cause mortality risk in the first month after the storms, but the difference fell to <6 percent by the end of the 10-year observation period. The largest mortality risks immediately after the storms came from heart disease and nephritis. The all-cause mortality risk was higher for affected seniors who moved to a different county, with an especially large difference seen among those who moved to an affected county.

“Our findings highlight the importance of the immediate response to disasters, yet also demonstrate the long-lasting impact disasters can have,” the authors write.

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