Study Finds Racial Disparities in Advanced Heart Failure Treatment

October 19, 2022 by Dan McCue
Study Finds Racial Disparities in Advanced Heart Failure Treatment
(National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute photo)

WASHINGTON — White Adults were twice as likely as Black adults treated at advanced heart failure centers to receive potentially life-changing therapies, such as transplants and mechanical heart pumps, a new National Institutes of Health-supported study has found.

Researchers followed 377 patients receiving treatment at one of 21 centers in the United States and found that 62 of 277 White adults (about 22%) received a heart transplant or ventricular assist device, a mechanical device that pumps blood for the heart. 

In comparison, only 11 of 100 Black adults (11%) received these end-stage heart failure therapies, which can extend and improve a patient’s quality of life.  

The findings appear in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

The researchers said the findings underscore the importance in strengthening equity in clinical decision-making for the 600,000 Americans — particularly Black adults — who have end-stage heart failure. 

Prior studies have shown Black adults have a greater risk for heart failure and are twice as likely to die from it.

“The lives disabled or lost are simply too many,” said Wendy C. Taddei-Peters, Ph.D., a study author and clinical trials project official within the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 

“An immediate step could be to require implicit bias training, particularly for transplant and VAD team members,” she added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6.2 million Americans have heart failure. Common symptoms may include shortness of breath, swelling in the lower body, such as the legs and ankles, and feeling tired.

Underlying risk factors for heart failure, such as diabetes, can also disproportionately affect Black, Native American and Alaska Native, and Hispanic adults.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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