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Women Less Likely to Get Heart Defibrillators
Date:10/2/2007

And blacks are less likely to receive the lifesaving devices, studies find

TUESDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Women are less likely than men to receive implantable defibrillators, and black patients are less likely than white patients to receive the lifesaving heart devices.

Two studies documenting these findings echo previous research, and confirm that little progress has been made in this area of inequity.

"In the mid 1990s, the Institute of Medicine noted that newer technologies and innovative therapies were more likely to be used in men versus women and in whites versus blacks consistently, and recommended that the health-care system needs to figure out how to deliver new therapies more efficiently and equitably," said Dr. Adrian Hernandez, an author of both of the studies, which appear in the Oct. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"This is a case example where we still haven't done that," added Hernandez, an assistant professor of medicine at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, in Durham, N.C.

"It reconfirms what was found in clinical trials, that the problem still exists," said Dr. Wojciech Zareba, a professor of medicine with the cardiology unit at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center. "We do not know the reason for the discrepancy but, in my view, one predominant reason is a lot of education needs to be done among physicians to convince them. People don't know enough and we should have more advertisements during the evening news on sudden cardiac death in women rather than on asthma drugs or breast cancer."

Some 350,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of sudden cardiac death, making it one of the leading causes of death. Although the risk is initially higher in men than in women, that discrepancy disappears after age 85.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), introduced about two decades ago, conti
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