Free, convenient screening for cardiovascular disease risk improves participation among adults with ID

By Gerald Koh, PhD
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore

Little work has been done on the barriers faced by persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) in accessing preventive services. In particular, there is lack of research around chronic disease prevalence, as well as access to health screening, amongst adults with ID living in Asian societies.

What did you do in your research?
We studied the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors such as obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) among patients with ID ≥ 40 years of age, receiving services from the largest provider for individuals with ID in Singapore. We also studied the uptake of screening for these risk factors as a result of a 3-month screening intervention.

What did you find out?
About 227 participants were involved in this study. Prevalence of CVD factors for persons with ID (23% with hypertension, 11% with diabetes, 35% with dyslipidemia, 11% obese, 91% lacking regular exercise) was high compared to the general population. As a result of the screening intervention, more individuals underwent screenings. At baseline, 62%, 25% and 18% of adults with ID had gone for regular hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia screening, respectively; post-intervention, rates rose to 97%, 90% and 89%, respectively. Prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors (23% with hypertension, 11% with diabetes, 35% with dyslipidemia, 11% obese, 91% lacking regular exercise) was high compared to the general population. While receiving residential services was associated with regular hypertension screening, receiving non-residential services and being independently mobile were associated with regular participation in fasting blood tests.

What are the take-home messages?
CVD risk factors are common among adults with ID; clinicians should therefore proactively screen such populations. Providing free and convenient screening for CVD risk improves screening participation.

To learn more about these findings contact
Ian Wee.

Full Journal Article
Wee, L. E., Koh, G. C.-H., Auyong, L. S., Cheong, A., Myo, T. T., Lin, J., Lim, E., Tan, S., Sundaramurthy, S., Koh, C. W., Ramakrishnan, P., Aariyapillai-Rajagopal, R., Vaidynathan-Selvamuthu, H. and Ma-Ma, K. (2014). Screening for cardiovascular disease risk factors at baseline and post intervention among adults with intellectual disabilities in an urbanised Asian society. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58, 255–268.