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Cardiovascular health disparities must be eradicated

NEW YORK, March 15 Research, advocacy and education must "close the gaps" in cardiovascular health disparities among races, an American Heart Association writing group reports in today's special disparities issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Discovering the full spectrum of cardiovascular disease: The minority health summit" is an executive summary based on reports from a meeting held in October 2003 in Atlanta, Ga.

"Meeting attendees reviewed medical literature to uncover the extent of known disparities in cardiovascular health and treatment and collaborated on describing what needs to be done to close the gaps," said Clyde W. Yancy, M.D., lead author of the summary and professor of internal medicine and cardiology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"These recommendations are based on what we already know and what we need to develop to make a positive impact on health disparities," Yancy said. "The recommendations not only address scientific issues behind cardiovascular health care disparities, but also social issues that could impede access to care, knowledge and research."

For example, the group cited evidence for disparities in cardiovascular disease from a Kaiser Family Foundation/American College of Cardiology Foundation report that showed thrombolytic therapy (clot-busting drugs given to treat a heart attack) was given 50 percent less often in African Americans compared with whites. Furthermore, minorities were less likely to have cardiac catheterization or bypass surgery than whites even after accounting for differences in age, insurance, disease severity or other health problems.

"We also wanted to highlight the striking confluence of known risk factors for heart disease and stroke in minority populations especially hypertension, obesity and diabetes," Yancy said. "We are concerned that minority communities may be at the highest risk for heart disease and stroke
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
15-Mar-2005


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