Study Suggests Healthcare Inequities Exist In Heart Attack Patients Over The Long Term

Whether your doctor reminds you at your annual exam or you've seen ads that raise heart health awareness, you understand the importance of a healthy heart. Cardiovascular disease includes conditions that weaken the function and structure of the heart such as coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If cardiovascular diseases are left untreated, a heart attack may be the result.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is obstructed by plaques or other substances in the arteries of the heart (via Mayo Clinic). As a result, heart damage can occur in the heart's muscles and other structures. Treatment of a heart attack may include medications and surgical procedures, such as beta blockers and stenting, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Unfortunately, a heart attack can impact your health long after the event has passed. However, cardiac rehabilitation programs are designed to help heart attack patients return to normal activities. While the long-term survival rate after a heart attack has improved for some Americans, a new study published in JAMA Cardiology shows that others have been left behind.

Study shows poor long-term outcomes for some races

According to U.S. News & World Report, a team of researchers, including Dr. Harlan Krumholz, study author and director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale School of Medicine, analyzed data collected from 3.9 million Medicare beneficiaries. Data included those who had lived at least 30 days following a heart attack from 1995 to 2019.

The study revealed that hazard ratios for death and heart attack recurrence were impacted by a patient's race. The ratios were 1.05 and 1.08 for Black versus white patients respectively and 0.96 and 1.00 for other races versus white patients. Dr. Krumholz said, "Our results demonstrate some accomplishments and some work ahead; we are making progress on improving long-term outcomes overall, but we are failing to reduce the inequalities in long-term health outcomes that may cause death or another heart attack" (via U.S. News & World Report). Krumholz also noted that more efforts should be placed on prevention and access to resources to avoid repeat heart attacks.