Wide racial disparities found in coronary artery disease deaths

DURHAM, N.C. -- African-American patients with coronary artery disease die at a significantly higher rate than white patients with the same degree of disease, according to an analysis of more than 20,000 patients by cardiologists at the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Among patients diagnosed with serious coronary disease who were followed for an average nine years, the researchers found that blacks have had a 36 percent survival rate while whites have had a 46 percent survival rate.

The researchers said the disparity can be partially by the findings that blacks tend to have higher rates of other medical conditions, which can complicate or contribute to heart problems, and that blacks do not receive coronary artery bypass surgery as often. But the researchers stressed that other unproven factors almost certainly are involved and that further research is needed to identify them and quantify their contributions.

"As prevention becomes a key point of emphasis in treating heart disease, it is vitally important to identify risk factors and to act on them," said cardiology fellow Kevin Thomas, M.D., who reported the results of the analysis on Sunday, Nov. 12, at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association, in Chicago.

The study was supported by a young investigator award from the Association of Black Cardiologists and the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

"Past studies from which risk factors have been derived provide great information about heart disease in white men, but the studies have included few minorities and women," Thomas said. "Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for blacks and whites in the United States, and yet there is a paucity of information on the long-term prognosis for blacks."

For the analysis, Thomas and colleagues consulted the Duke Database for Cardiovascular Disease, a compilation of data on heart patients who come to Duke University Medical Cent

Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center

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