Black men and women are more likely to die of a heart attack or heart failure than whites in the United States, according to a new study.
Researchers said those disparities could be explained by black adults’ higher rates of smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, and the finding that they tend to be heavier than whites.
The study’s lead author said the result is “distressingly similar” to racial differences seen in data from the 1990s, despite public health efforts to address them.
“The sad fact is, we really don’t see an awful lot of movement in terms of that long-standing disparity. It’s pretty much where we were the last time we looked at it,” Dr. Monika Safford, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Reuters Health.
Her team’s findings are based on close to 25,000 middle-aged and older adults who had blood and urine tests and a general health check in 2003 through 2007. At that point, none of them had heart disease.
Over the next four-plus years, 659 people in the study developed any kind of heart disease, including heart attacks and heart failure. About one-third of those “events” were fatal.
Every year during the study, 4 in 1,000 black men died from heart disease, on average, compared to 1.9 of 1,000 white men, the researchers found. Among women, 2 in 1,000 blacks died of heart disease each year, compared to 1 in 1,000 whites.
Safford and her colleagues found the extra deaths in blacks could be explained by their higher heart risks to begin with. For example, close to one in three black men and women had diabetes at the study’s onset, versus one in six white participants.
“There are no surprises here,” Safford said.
She said genetics may put black adults at higher risk for uncontrolled high blood pressure. When it comes to high cholesterol, fewer of them are on statins. And blacks may not be accessing quit-smoking programs – or other preventive care – as often as whites…
Read more: NBC