Socioeconomic factors tied to heart attack outcome14 years, 8 months ago
Posted on Nov 07, 2005, 7 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Although white men appear to do better than any other group after heart attack, socioeconomic factors and co-existing illnesses -- rather than biological differences or preferential treatment -- appear to play a significant part in this outcome, researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Lead investigator Dr. Carlos Iribarren told Reuters Health that "even in the context of a managed care organization -- where there's no barriers to seeing doctors and getting prescriptions -- African-American male and female patients and Asian females had a 40 percent increased risk of having a second heart attack compared to the white men."
Iribarren of Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, California and colleagues came to these conclusions after following, for up to 8 years, more than 30,000 managed care members who had experienced a heart attack.
In addition, continued Iribarren, "African-American male and female patients had a 50 percent increased risk of dying after suffering a heart attack. However, unlike previous studies on this topic, we were able to find an explanation for these differences."
The researchers determined that about half of the increased risk was due to socioeconomic factors such as level of income, level of education, marital status and occupation, and the other half was due to chronic conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease or depression, and to differences in medications and surgical procedures.
"The implication of our findings," Iribarren concluded, "is that, at least theoretically, if one could eliminate differences in socioeconomic status and treat everyone equally, there will be no more gender and ethnic disparities after suffering a heart attack."
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