Race and Heart Attack Treatment
WebMD News Archive
Lynn Smaha, MD, president of the American Heart Association, adds in a
statement that readings of an electrocardiogram (EKG), which measures
electrical activity in the heart, may not be as accurate in blacks as they are
in whites. "Confirming that a heart attack has occurred may be more
difficult in blacks than whites because it is harder to interpret the EKG
findings," he says.
Kiefe, who is professor of medicine at UAB and director of the Center for
Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, urges black patients not to
assume that they automatically will receive worse or different treatment should
they suffer a heart attack. "These findings need to be interpreted with
much caution," she says. "The most important point here is that more
study is needed."
For consumers who are concerned, she says, "An educated consumer is
always a better patient. Learning as much as you can about [heart disease] and
asking questions about things you don't understand are always helpful."
- Researchers say that among patients who have had a heart attack, blacks are
significantly less likely to get treatment to reopen their heart's blocked
- The study's authors say they are not sure why this difference exists. They
add that they don't think it is a matter of racism but suggest it could be more
difficult to tell whether black patients are eligible for this type of
- The researchers stress that more study is needed. Until more is learned,
they urge patients to educate themselves about heart disease and ask their
doctors about their treatment.