Whites Receive Advanced Treatment for Heart Attacks More Often Than Blacks, Study Finds
Black heart attack patients are less likely than their white counterparts to receive advanced medical treatment, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Des Moines Register reports. For the study, researchers from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City examined the medical records of more than 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries ages 68 and older who experienced heart attacks and received treatment at 4,627 hospitals nationwide (Leys, Des Moines Register, 6/13).
The study found that 31% of white participants admitted to hospitals without revascularization services were transferred to hospitals that did have such services, compared with 25.2% of black participants. Among white participants, 50.2% of those admitted to hospitals with revascularization service underwent the procedure, compared with 25.9% of those admitted to the hospitals without the service, the study found. The corresponding one-year mortality rates for white participants were 30.2% and 37.6%, respectively, according to the study.
Among black participants, 34.3% of those admitted to hospitals with revascularization service underwent the procedure, compared with 18.3% of those admitted to hospitals without the service, the study found. The corresponding mortality rates for black participants were 35.3% and 39.7%, respectively, according to the study.
According to lead study author Ioana Popescu, an internal medicine specialist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, the study indicates that physicians should increase efforts to standardize treatment and preventive care for heart attack patients and eliminate racial disparities (Reuters, 6/13).
Popescu also said that the study did not account for factors such as pre-existing medical conditions or patient preferences for surgery. She said, "People should be aware these differences exist, but they also should be aware that we don't know why these differences exist" (Des Moines Register, 6/13).
An abstract of the study is available online.