To examine the association of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic deprivation with initiation of guideline-recommended diabetes medications with cardiovascular benefit (glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists [GLP1-RA] and sodium–glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors [SGLT2i]) among older adults with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and either incident atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) or congestive heart failure (CHF).


Using Medicare data (2016–2019), we identified 4,057,725 individuals age >65 years with T2D and either incident ASCVD or CHF. We estimated incidence rates and hazard ratios (HR) of GLP1-RA or SGLT2i initiation within 180 days by race/ethnicity and zip code–level Social Deprivation Index (SDI) using adjusted Cox proportional hazards models.


Incidence rates of GLP1-RA or SGLT2i initiation increased over time but remained low (<0.6 initiations per 100 person-months) in all years studied. Medication initiation was less common among those of Black or other race/ethnicity (HR 0.81 [95% CI 0.79–0.84] and HR 0.84 [95% CI 0.75–0.95], respectively) and decreased with increasing SDI (HR 0.96 [95% CI 0.96–0.97]). Initiation was higher in ASCVD than CHF (0.35 vs. 0.135 initiations per 100 person-months). Moderate (e.g., nephropathy, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) but not severe (e.g., advanced chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis) comorbidities were associated with higher probability of medication initiation.


Among older adults with T2D and either ASCVD or CHF, initiation of GLP1-RA or SGLT2i was low, suggesting a substantial deficit in delivery of guideline-recommended care or treatment barriers. Individuals of Black and other race/ethnicity and those with higher area-level socioeconomic deprivation were less likely to initiate these medications.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.21313254.

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