COVID-19 pandemic unmasking cardiovascular risk factors and non-communicable diseases among migrant workers: a cross-sectional study in Singapore

BMJ Open. 2022 May 24;12(5):e055903. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055903.


OBJECTIVES: This study aims to report the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) and other non-communicable diseases among migrant workers in Singapore admitted for COVID-19 infection, to highlight disease burden and the need for changes in health screening and healthcare delivery in this unique population.

SETTING: The study was conducted in the largest tertiary hospital in Singapore.

DESIGN: Retrospective cross-sectional study.

PARTICIPANTS: 883 migrant workers who had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection admitted to three isolation wards between 6 April 2020 and 31 May 2020 were included in this study.

OUTCOME MEASURES: The outcome measures were the prevalence of pre-existing and newly diagnosed comorbid conditions and the prevalence of CVRFs-diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia-and non-communicable diseases at the time of discharge. The OR of having specific CVRFs depending on country of origin was generated via multivariate logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: The median age of our study population was 45 years. 17.0% had pre-existing conditions and 25.9% received new diagnoses. Of the new diagnoses, 15.7% were acute medical conditions and 84.3% chronic medical conditions. The prevalence of CVRFs was higher in Southeast Asian and South Asian migrant workers compared with Chinese. The prevalence of non-communicable diseases on discharge was highest among Southeast Asians (49.4%).

CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 outbreak in a large number of migrant workers in Singapore unmasked a significant disease burden among them, increasing stakeholders’ interests in their welfare. Moving forward, system-level changes are necessary to deliver healthcare sustainably and effect improvements in migrant workers’ health.

PMID:35613819 | PMC:PMC9125380 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055903