A stubborn inequity in heart treatments
Illness is a great leveler, but social and economic factors have profound effects on health, in terms of both vulnerability to disease and the treatments patients receive.
After a series of studies in the 1980s and early 1990s showed that black and female patients were not treated as aggressively as white males after heart attacks, public health initiatives were launched to redress the problem.
But in the August 18 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Yale and Emory reported that black patients, especially black women, are still less likely than white patients to receive standard tests or therapies after heart attacks.
“We found persistence of an elevated risk of death among African-American women,” says senior author Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D., professor of medicine and public health and director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. “This finding, along with evidence of differences in treatment, requires attention and remedy.”