Oct 19, 2022 - Health

Cardiac care is affected by provider racism, study finds

Illustration of a glass heart shattering.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Black patients were less likely to be referred for and receive heart pumps and transplants than white patients, according to a new study.

Why it matters: It's another sign of systemic bias within the health system that could limit access to lifesaving care for vulnerable populations.

  • "We need to acknowledge our role in creating these inequities and hopefully move forward and be part of the change," Thomas Cascino, study author and cardiologist at the University of Michigan Health Frankel Cardiovascular Center, told Axios.

Be smart: Black patients have higher rates of heart failure and are more likely to die than white patients, past research shows, and disparities in access to treatment and care have been previously noted.

  • This latest study went further, finding that Black patients got less care even when they had access, adequate insurance coverage and an expressed desire to get treatment.

What they found: Researchers studied 377 patients receiving treatment for heart failure at 21 medical centers, who were enrolled in an NIH-funded clinical trial that follows heart failure patients' trajectories.

  • 100 of the patients were Black, and just 11 of them received a heart transplant or ventricular assist device.
  • 22% of the remaining white patients received a heart pump or a transplant.
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