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Sudden Cardiac Arrest More Common in Black People

blackman-chestpains-2015According to a recent study published in medical journal Circulation, Black people are more than two times as likely to have sudden cardiac arrests than Whites. The study, led by associate director of Cedar-Sinai Heart Institute, Dr. Sumeet S. Chugh, examined both White residents and Black residents of the Portland metropolitan area who had cardiac arrests between the years of 2002 and 2012. Researchers used data from the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study (SUDS), an ongoing community-based study, to compare the medical histories of those who had suffered from cardiac arrests according to race.

The study found that 175 Black men and 90 Black women per 100,000 people go through sudden cardiac arrest, in comparison to 84 White men and 40 White women per 100,000 people. The majority of Black people who had experienced cardiac arrest were younger than 65; whereas, the majority of White people experiencing the same condition were older than 65. Additionally, there are several risk factors for heart disease and non-coronary heart problems that prove to be more prevalent for Blacks than Whites. These include: chronic kidney failure (34% of Black people compared to 19% of White people); diabetes (52% of Black people compared to 33% of White people); high blood pressure (77% of Black people compared to 65% of White people); congestive heart failure (43% of Black people compared to 34% of White people); and, left ventricular hypertrophy (77% of Black people compared to 58% of White people). However, both Black and White people involved in the study developed coronary heart disease at the same rate. Coronary heart disease has been considered the most accurate predictor of sudden cardiac arrest for quite some time.

Since the study revealed that Black people have higher incidences of non-coronary cardiac risk factors which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, it is suggested that a broader spectrum of risk factors be identified. This will assist clinicians in lowering the incidences of sudden cardiac arrest in Black people in comparison with people of other racial groups.

Dr. Chugh states that cardiac arrest is “recognized by the bad company it keeps.” This means that by preventing coronary artery disease, sudden cardiac death can be prevented. He also shares that “as health care professionals, we should be aware of a broader spectrum of risk factors for our Black patients.” The doctor explains that if medical professionals are focusing on cutting the risk of coronary artery disease, doctors are “unlikely to offer them the same benefit we offer White patients.”

Since only a small number of Black people were available for the study, medical professionals were not able to include analyses that compared Black and White cases to Black and White controls. Because of this, the researchers state that further investigation is needed in order to find out if the risk factors listed above are actually associated with sudden cardiac arrest. In the future, researchers are confident that their study should be replicated in communities other than Portland. To date, investigation has been expanded to Ventura County in California, where there is a large concentration of Hispanic people. Medical News Today also published a study in 2014, which revealed that that impact of risk factors associated with heart disease are most prevalent in women and Black people in the United States.

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