Racial disparities in heart attack mortality rates may be explained by differences in sociodemographic characteristics, and not race alone, according to a new study published Nov. 2 in JAMA Network Open.
 
The study analyzed data for about 6,400 patients who had heart attacks to compare black and white patients across a range of characteristics (demographic, socioeconomic status, social factors, lifestyle factors, medical history, clinical presentation, health status and depression). Researchers looked at how these patient characteristics differed by race, how they were associated with survival after heart attack, and whether the association differed for black and white patients who had similar characteristics.
 
Analyses suggest a difference in mortality rate based on characteristics that were more common in black patients but no differences in survival rates at one and five years between black and white patients with similar characteristics. 
 
“Our data suggest that there are myriad characteristics associated with race that likely contribute to racial disparities in AMI outcomes,” the authors wrote. “More compelling is that those factors were strongly associated with mortality, and this finding should prompt new research into novel treatment strategies that can address novel potential mediators of racial disparities in survival after AMI.”
 
In addition, the study suggests that reducing racial disparities in outcomes will be possible only by deeply understanding some of the underlying sociodemographic factors that need to be addressed.

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