Introduction: Food insecurity refers to a state of being without reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity is gaining recognition as a risk factor for uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes and possibly for stroke. Our hospital serves a population of uninsured and underinsured patients. We sought to determine the prevalence of food insecurity in our population of patients recently discharged from the hospital with stroke.
Methods: Patients recently discharged from the hospital with stroke were screened for food insecurity in the neurology stroke clinic from March 23, 2016 to July 28, 2016. Food insecurity screening consisted of validated, two question screening tool. Electronic medical records were reviewed of patients who were screened. Information regarding insurance, zip code, reason for neurology consult, history of hypertension, history of diabetes, history of stroke and BMI were abstracted.
Results: A total of 216 neurology patients were screened. Forty-nine patients (22.7%) were identified as food insecure. Sixty-four patients presented to the neurology clinic for diagnosis of stroke. Twelve of these (18.8%) were found to be food insecure. In this food insecure stroke group, 11/12 (84.6%) were diagnosed with hypertension, 7/12 (58.3%) had diabetes, and 2/12 (16.7%) had previous diagnosis of stroke. In the food secure stroke group, 35/52 (67.3%) had diagnosis of hypertension, 15/52 (28.8%) had diagnosis of diabetes, and 11/52 (21.2%) had previous diagnosis of stroke.
Conclusions: Food insecurity is a prevalent issue in our patient population. Food insecurity may lead to an increased risk of stroke risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension and complicate their management. Understanding the magnitude of the problem may allow considered interventions.