Latino and black patients were less likely to be offered an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, a potentially lifesaving device that shocks the heart when it detects a dangerously irregular heart rhythm, according to a recent study cited by American Heart Association News.
The study confirms that long-standing disparities are not going away.
Something needs to be done, said Dr. Samir Saba, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who was not involved in the study, told American Heart Association News.
“Very few insights exist into the root causes,” said Saba, who has treated patients with heart failure for nearly two decades. “Here we are in 2017 … and still we are speculating about what could be going on.”
The study, published last summer in the journal Circulation, is among the American Heart Association’s top 10 heart and stroke science advances of 2016. It included more than 21,000 hospitalized heart failure patients at 236 hospitals that follow the AHA’s Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure, a program that helps hospitals improve cardiovascular care.
Why aren’t Latinos and blacks being offered ICD heart devices?
Doctors might think patients are doing well without it, or are hesitant to recommend a costly treatment that isn’t always fully covered by insurance. Patients may face cultural barriers related to race and ethnicity or factors related to income and education.
One solution is for cardiologists to offer the device to more patients, considering only about one in five were counseled about the option in the recent study.
“If we were to solve the major problem of why 80 percent are not being talked to about it, that in of itself may solve the secondary problems of ethnic disparities and gender disparities,” Saba said.