Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness

Research Article

Time to Recovery in Diabetes and Comorbidities Following Hurricane Katrina

Tina K. Thethi, C. Lillian Yau, Lizheng Shi, Sharice Leger, Prathima Nagireddy, Jay Waddadar, Prasanth Surampudi, Jennifer John-Kalarickal, Lydia Yenoby and Vivian Fonseca c1


Background: The impact of a natural disaster on self-care and health care delivery has been well documented. The objective of the study was to document the recovery pattern from the impact of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina on clinical and biochemical measures of diabetes and its comorbidities.

Methods: Patients were selected from Tulane University Hospital and Clinic, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, and the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans. Adults with diabetes and A1c measurement 6 months before (pre-K) Hurricane Katrina (February 28, 2005–August 27, 2005) and 6 to 16 months after (post-K) Katrina (March 1, 2006–December 31, 2006) were identified within the 3 facilities. Follow-up data (January 1, 2007–December 31, 2007) were 1 year after the first post-K visit. The outcome measures were hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), and lipids (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL], triglycerides).

Results: Averaged across the 3 facilities, the parameters significantly different in the follow-up period compared with pre- and post-K were HbA1c (P = .04), HDL, and systolic and diastolic BP (P < .0001). Parameters with significantly different patterns of change in the 3 facilities over time were HbA1c, HDL, systolic and diastolic BP (P < .0001), and low-density lipoprotein (P < .01).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that a variety of clinical and biochemical parameters related to diabetes and its comorbidities affected by natural disaster have varied the rate of recovery to predisaster levels.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:S33-S38)

(Received May 03 2010)

(Accepted July 26 2010)

Key Words:

  • Hurricane Katrina;
  • disaster;
  • recovery;
  • diabetes


c1 Correspondence: Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Vivian Fonseca, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, 1430 Tulane Ave, SL 53, New Orleans, LA 70112 (e-mail: vfonseca@tulane.edu).

Author Affiliations: Drs Thethi, Waddadar, Surampudi, John-Kalarickal, and Fonseca, and Ms Leger, Ms Nagireddy, and Ms Yenoby are with the Tulane University School of Medicine; Drs Yau and Shi are with the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine–Biostatistics.

The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.