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Best Life: Does race play a part in heart disease outcomes

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 7:54 AM CDT
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PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — As many as one in 500 American adults have cardiomyopathy, meaning their hearts have become enlarged, thickened, or rigid, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood through the body. Now, new research examines racial disparities in the outcomes of these heart patients.

People with cardiomyopathy may have no symptoms at all or their symptoms may be very mild at first.

“Over time, if we don’t get patients on good medications and things like that, then they will progress to what we call clinical heart failure, where they develop symptoms of shortness of breath, leg swelling,” Shazli Khan, MD, an internal medicine specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

Khan is studying racial disparities in cardiomyopathy outcomes. She and her colleagues looked at data from 18,000 patients over a six-year period.

“What we actually found was that black patients in our cohort had a much higher prevalence of a lot of chronic medical conditions,” said Khan. “So more chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, higher rates of diabetes. In fact, they were actually dying more than the white patients with cardiomyopathy.”

Researchers found Black patients diagnosed with cardiomyopathy were 15 percent more likely to die than white patients. Khan says the study findings suggest that providers should stress earlier interventions.

“That they’re coming in to fill their medications, making appointments, giving them resources and sort of educating them on what the long-term effects of certain conditions are,” Khan noted.

Khan says cardiomyopathy symptoms may be mild or vague at first, so having this information about comorbidities and race could help physicians identify higher-risk patients earlier.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.

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