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Noncitizens Undertreated for Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Findings seen for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes versus born or naturalized U.S. citizens

TUESDAY, March 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Noncitizens are undertreated for cardiovascular risk factors in the United States, according to a study published in the March issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Jenny S. Guadamuz, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2011 to 2016; including 16,986 adults aged ≥20 years) to estimate the prevalence, treatment, and control of cardiovascular disease risk factors (hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus) among adults overall and by citizenship status (U.S.-born citizens, 82.1 percent; foreign-born citizens, 8.6 percent; noncitizens, 9.3 percent).

The researchers found that noncitizens had considerably lower treatment rates for high cholesterol versus foreign-born citizens and U.S.-born citizens, with only 16.4 percent of noncitizens receiving treatment for their high cholesterol versus 43.3 percent of foreign-born citizens and 45.5 percent of U.S.-born citizens. Similar results were seen for high blood pressure treatment (60.3, 79.6, and 81.1 percent, respectively), and diabetes treatment (51.2, 66.6, and 69.5 percent, respectively). Findings persisted when adjusting for sociodemographic factors, including age, gender, income, and language preferences. However, when adjusting for insurance coverage and access to a usual source of care, the differences by citizenship status lessened.

“Citizenship status acts as a structural barrier to health for noncitizens, where many are systematically excluded from the health care system,” Guadamuz said in a statement.

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