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After a heart attack, a disparity in outcomes

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2016 - Winter


A study that analyzed data on more than 132,000 white heart attack patients and almost 9,000 black patients—and used zip codes to assess income levels—found that the survival rate 17 years later was 7.4 percent for white patients, but only 5.7 percent for black patients.

White patients across all ages in low-income areas lived about 5.6 years after a heart attack, longer than the average 5.4 years for black patients. In high-income communities, however, the gap widened—white patients had a life expectancy of 7 years, compared to 6.3 years for black patients, according to the study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

The study, said lead author Emily Bucholz, M.P.H. ’09, M.D. ’15, Ph.D. ’15, suggests that improving socioeconomic standing may improve outcomes for black and white patients globally, but is unlikely to eliminate racial disparities in health.

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