Study suggests first cardiac events more fatal for black patients

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A new study conducted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York shows that black patients are twice as likely as white counterparts to die from an initial heart event, suggesting heart attack prevention among blacks should be emphasized.

The research, published July 10 in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, compiled data from two studies that included black adults ages 45 to 64.

Findings showed that adults in that age group suffer from fatal cardiac events at twice the rate compared to whites. It was consistent among older adults, but to a lesser degree.

“Our concern is that blacks may not be seeking medical attention for important symptoms that could signal heart problems,” said the study’s senior researcher Monika Safford, MD, a John J. Kuiper Professor of Medicine and chief of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell, in a statement.

The main cause for the increased risk in black patients could stem from what the researchers described as “social determinants of health,” which include the conditions in which people are born, live and work.

“Greater public awareness of heart attack symptoms would benefit everyone,” Safford said. “Many people think that heart attacks are only present if they have severe chest pain. In fact, many heart attacks cause only mild symptoms and people may mistakenly think they are having a bout of indigestion.”