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Am J Med Sci. 2002 Nov;324(5):243-6.

Identification of cardiovascular risk factors in homeless adults.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.



Cardiovascular disease is an important health problem among homeless adults; however, the common cardiac risk factors present in this population are unknown. This study was undertaken to identify the reversible cardiovascular risks present in the homeless.


A retrospective chart review was performed randomly on 100 patients who were seen at a homeless clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana. These patients were compared with 200 matched nonhomeless patients who attended an inner-city primary care clinic. Each chart from the 2 groups was reviewed for the presence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2, cigarette smoking, and hypercholesterolemia. Statistical comparisons were made between the homeless and the control subjects.


Hypertension was present in 65% of the homeless but only 52% of the nonhomeless [P < 0.05; odds ratio 1.78 (CI, 1.09 to 2.9)]. Smoking was far more common in the homeless than the nonhomeless, 75 versus 57%, respectively [P < 0.005; odds ratio 2.22 (CI, 1.27 to 3.88)]. There was no difference in the prevalence of diabetes or total cholesterol. Compared with national data hypertension, smoking and diabetes seem to be represented excessively in the homeless population.


Smoking and hypertension are significantly more prevalent in the homeless population than in a matched cohort. Educational and preventive programs are needed to reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and reduce the overutilization of expensive healthcare resources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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