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Blacks Fare Worse After Cardiac Arrest
Date:9/15/2009

Poor hospital care a big reason why, researchers say

TUESDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Black patients who suffer cardiac arrest in the hospital are much less likely to survive than white patients, a new study finds.

Most of this disparity appears to result from the hospital in which black patients receive care, although other factors play a role as well, the researchers said.

"We know that survival after having a cardiac arrest in the hospital setting has always been historically low," said lead researcher Dr. Paul S. Chan, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City. "The rate of survival has been about 30 to 33 percent on average."

But the survival rates for blacks were significantly lower, 25 percent vs. 37 percent for whites, Chan said.

"This 12 percent absolute difference in survival is larger than any survival I can think of in terms of a racial disparity, in any other medical condition," he said.

The report is published in the Sept. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Chan and colleagues used data from the National Registry of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation to look at differences in survival among patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest.

They collected information on 10,011 patients, about 19 percent of whom were black, from 274 hospitals. These patients had all been defibrillated after a cardiac arrest.

The lower rates of survival to hospital discharge for blacks reflected lower rates of successful resuscitation (55.8 percent for blacks vs. 67.4 percent for whites) and survival after resuscitation (45.2 percent for blacks vs. 55.5 percent for whites), the researchers noted.

About a third of the difference can be explained by the patients themselves, Chan said, "Black patients were sicker when they had a cardiac arrest than white patients," he said.

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