Disparity exists even though more minorities than whites meet criteria for cutting-edge treatment
FRIDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- When black and Hispanic Medicare recipients suffer severe heart failure, they are less likely than their white counterparts to be treated with the most cutting-edge treatment available, a new analysis suggests.
"We found that there were real but modest differences between racial and ethnic groups in the use of the most advanced devices for the treatment of severe heart failure, even after considering all the medical and diagnostic factors when providing those treatments," explained the study's author, Dr. Steven A. Farmer, a fellow of cardiovascular medicine in the cardiovascular division of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
In this case, the treatment in question is actually a combination of two interventions: the insertion of a small, battery-powered, implantable defibrillator (ICD) to regulate heart rhythms; and "cardiac resynchronization therapy" (CRT), a newer approach that relies on a special pacemaker that realigns heartbeats whenever the normally simultaneous pulsing of the right and left ventricle falls out of sync.
Farmer's team, which reports the finding in the March issue of Heart Rhythm Journal, noted that the combined treatment, known as CRT-D, is appropriate for 15 percent to 20 percent of heart failure patients.
The authors further noted that congestive heart failure strikes more than 5 million Americans each year. Racial and ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable, with 2005 figures from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicating that more than a quarter of all deaths in those groups are attributable to heart disease, making cardiovascular illness the number one killer of blacks and Hispanics.
In particular, the department noted that black men have a 30 percent greater risk of dying fro
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