Health Team

Study: Race May Be Factor in Treatment After Heart Attack

Posted June 12, 2007

— A new study shows that white patients are more likely to receive appropriate, specialized treatment after a heart attack than black patients are.

After a heart attack, doctors often need to open blocked arteries in the heart, but not every patient who needs that specialized treatment gets it.

"Black patients were consistently less likely to receive specialized heart treatments as compared to white patients, even after transfer to hospitals providing these treatments," said Dr. Iona Popescu, of the University of Iowa.

Popescu led a review of the Medicare records of more than a million heart attack patients in the United States over five years. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, were significant.

Compared with white patients, black patients were about 20 percent less likely to be transferred to hospitals that provide specialized heart services. Overall,  they were about 30 percent less likely to get those services.

"We are truly uncertain of what causes these differences," Popescu said.

"One concern is that the patients are being viewed differently by the physicians," said Dr. Kim Allen, of the University of Chicago.

Allen said there is also an attitude problem within the black community that may keep many people from accepting appropriate care.

"Because there's a distrust of the system, going back historically with good reason and not realizing that things are different now and that these people are not out to hurt you," Allen said.

Popescu said she hopes those attitudes can change if both doctors and patients focus on quality and that should help equalize care.


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  • Lookelou Jun 14, 2007

    Health insurance premiums are outrageous anyway. I have a heart condition and are trying to obtain new insurance. I probably can't say their name but their initials are BCBS, quoted me a price of 1500.00 a month. It's probably cheaper and easier to do without insurance and file bankruptcy afterward.

  • justin Jun 14, 2007

    this story makes me want to vomit. keep up the race pimping.

  • SEDGFLD Jun 14, 2007

    One of the reasons that bad information, lies and supposition gets passed along is that, when people don't like what they read or hear that is factual, they add their own opinions as fact or insert scenarios they have no basis that would justify inclusion..
    The FACTS are that there are a combination of reasons why there is still a disparity factor in the level of care between Black and White heart attack patients. This indicates a level of racism and a fear of racism. To deny that racism plays a factor and to guess at the reasons why it's really not a factor is following in the same denial pattern people use when they don't want to admit that racism is still very prevalent in this country. Rather than accept and deal with this situation, people deny it and try to blame the victims of the racism.
    We are following the same patterned bigotry as past gererations and will continue to pass on this voluntary ignorance for generations to come if we don't change the cycle.

  • claudnc Jun 14, 2007

    Again if you guys are aware of how a research study is conducted - the subjects should all be equal... So we are to assume that all had pretty much the same type of health care... all could be on medicare, medicaid, blue cross whatever - but all should have the same. If they werent the same then this study would not be soley based on healthcare and the racial disparity. It would be based on healthcare, racial disparity, AND health insurance... For some odd reason I am suprised that so many people dont believe this. These types of studies have been conducted several times - conclusion always the same! There are some attitudal issues that go into healthcare for persons of color... again that syphillis experiment still haunts, their own expereiences or loved ones experiences with Dr's. One study showed with all things even many doctors do not take as much time with persons of color to explain what is expected when dealing with an illness. They are not given the same education on illnesses

  • jgirl5830 Jun 14, 2007

    It's possible that these people are on Medicare, and Medicare pays doctors and hospitals what they want to pay, not what was actually billed, so I think the hospitals by law do what they have to and forego anything above and beyond. Thats what you get when you live off of the government instead of taking care of yourself, then poor suckers like us who pay for our health insurance wouldn't have to flip the bill because you know that is why medical care is so expensive in the first place.

  • FonziBeWithYou Jun 13, 2007

    I think you all need to re-read the part that stated:

    Allen said there is also an attitude problem within the black community that may keep many people from accepting appropriate care.

    "Because there's a distrust of the system, going back historically with good reason and not realizing that things are different now and that these people are not out to hurt you," Allen said.

  • XRAYMAMA Jun 13, 2007

    As a healthcare professional I would like to make clear that decissions regarding a patients care are not made in the buiness office. They are made ny the doctors. To my knowledge hospitals are required by law to treat a patient whether or not they can pay. Also, When a heart patient is rushed into the ER they are usually in very critical condition. I've worked in ERs and I've witnessed these situations . AT no point in time during a patients treatment do the Drs and nurses have time to stand back and say" wait this is a black man, lets not give him the best possible care" or "wait this is a white man, lets give him the best of everything" Those patients in the study might have had conditions that would have made surgery fatal or the patient could have refused. that happens. As someone who got into healthcare to help people and save lives, I am very offended by this article

  • katgoesloco Jun 13, 2007

    I can't believe some of the ignorant comments here. If the study was done properly, it controlled for health insurance.

    Get over it, folks. Study after study shows the same thing. There is a disparity in access to health care based on the color of people's skin. It's caused by prejudice. Everything else is controlled for in these studies.

    Prejudice. Like the prejudice, ignorance, and flat-out ugly bigotry in some of these comments here.

  • claudnc Jun 13, 2007

    I cant believe the comments here. When we have the same health care, make the same monies there is still a disparity in health care!!! Why would you assume they didnt have other health care or they didnt plan for the future if that is true then they could not be uses as subject when your doing a study such as this the subjects are suppose to be on an equal playing field and we are just looking at the variables if not then the whole study would have looked at Race and health insurance inequality as control variables. These types of studies come out all the time with health care and the playing field not being equal... Really it is true and it is caused by several different factors. With older AA the whole Tuskegee thing still haunts some

  • ladyblue Jun 12, 2007

    Could it be the white medicare patients thought ahead for the future and have other insurance to cover what medicare alone doesn't. I have medicare and it's a lot of things medicare doesn't handle that my other insurance has to. I'd like to know was that question asked for the survey. I doubt it. Studies sometimes are set up favorable to the people so they can gdet more grant monies.