African-Americans admitted to the intensive care unit for heart failure are less likely than white patients to receive care by a cardiologist.
Reuters reports that studies have shown that care by a cardiologist for heart failure is associated with better outcomes, including higher survival rates.
Dr. Khadijah Breathett from the University of Arizona in Tucson, headed a team that used a nationwide database to study 105,000 patients admitted to an ICU with heart failure. One in five were African-American; the rest were Caucasian. Most had some form of healthcare insurance.
The study found the odds of being cared for primarily by a cardiologist were 42 percent higher for Caucasians than for African-Americans, as reported in JACC: Heart Failure.
Reuters quotes Dr Breathett:
I hoped that this would be a negative study, demonstrating no racial differences in receipt of cardiology care based upon race. However, I suspected that racial differences would be present in this contemporary cohort since racial disparities persist in the incidence of heart failure, treatment of heart failure, and survival after developing heart failure.
I hope that this study motivates patients and healthcare providers to change our healthcare system, to focus on methods that may reduce racial and ethnic healthcare disparities in America.