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Blacks, Hispanics With Heart Failure Less Likely to Use Hospice

Despite increase in services, racial disparities persist, study finds

MONDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks and Hispanics with advanced heart failure are much less likely to turn to hospice care than whites, even though blacks in particular are more likely to develop the condition, a new report finds.

Heart failure, in which the heart weakens and can't beat effectively, is the second most common diagnosis for people in hospice care, which is designed for people with only months to live. Only cancer sends more people to hospice.

Researchers found that blacks were 40 percent less likely to receive hospice care for heart failure than whites, and Hispanics were 50 percent less likely.

"Our findings document significant racial differences in hospice use and show that overall increases in the availability of hospice services in the 1990s have not erased racial differences in hospice utilization," study author Dr. Jane L. Givens, a scientist at the Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research, said in a news release from the institute.

Only about 30 percent to 50 percent of people who suffer from advanced heart failure live beyond a year. Researchers report that many people with advanced heart failure don't go to hospice, even though it is frequently recommended.

The study appears in the March 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on hospice care.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research, news release, March 8, 2010

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