Addressing basic living needs helps patients achieve some health goals
medwireNews: A study shows that directing patients who struggle to meet their basic living needs to local resources leads to improvements in their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but does not affect glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels.
During follow-up of around 3 years, the systolic blood pressure of 1021 patients with unmet basic needs who enrolled in a program linking them with local resources reduced by a significant 2.7 mmHg more than that of 3351 patients without unmet needs. Diastolic blood pressure fell by 1.5 mmHg more and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol fell by 7.0 mg/dL (0.18 mmol/L) more, all after accounting for a range of confounders.
Seth Berkowitz (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA) and co-researchers concede these changes are not large at an individual level, but stress that such improvements are highly meaningful at a population level. Around 40% of people had unmet needs despite having commercial insurance, suggesting wide applicability of the findings, they note in JAMA Internal Medicine.
By contrast, HbA1c declined only by an additional 0.02%, which was not significant. The team says the reasons for this are not clear but suggest that addressing food insecurity “may not support the changes in dietary quality necessary to improve HbA1c level.”
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