Disparities Among Non-White and Black Heart Patients Persist: Analysis

A new analysis presented at the American Heart Association’s Resuscitation Science Symposium 2020 suggests that adults from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups continue to receive fewer treatments for heart problems compared to white patients.

The authors of the retrospective analysis used data from the National Inpatient Sample, which tracked over three million hospital admissions between 2012 and 2017.

According to the results, those in racial or ethnic minority groups received fewer early treatments (such as coronary angiographies, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Rates of coronary angiography were found to be 61.95% for Black patients, 70.2% for other groups, and 73.1% for white patients, while PCI rates were 44.6% for Black patients, 53.0% for others, and 58.1% for white patients, respectively. The authors also reported longer hospital stays, higher rates of palliative care consults, less frequent do-not-resuscitate orders, and fewer home discharges among Black patients, as well as higher in-hospital mortality rates in Asian, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and Native American patients relative to white patients.

“As medical professionals, we need to continue to evaluate our own practice and perceptions. Race is a powerful determinant of a patient’s health, along with their sex, age, insurance status and socio-economic status, and these factors work additively from a risk standpoint. For example, an older Black woman from a low-income household without medical insurance will likely have worse health outcomes than a middle-aged white man from an affluent home with good health insurance,” Saraschandra Vallabhajosyula, MD, MSc, the study’s senior author and a fellow of interventional cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said in a news release. “The complex interplay of these important non-clinical risk factors, also called social determinants of health, need careful evaluation. Only when we eliminate these disparities can we say health care is truly equitable.”

The authors went on to note that further research into equitable care is necessary to address the ongoing disparities.