Racial inequities uncovered in hospital admissions for heart failure

Lauren Eberly M.D. M.P.H.
A former resident physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, listens to patient with stethoscope.

Circulation: Heart Failure Journal Report

People who are black or of Latin American descent with heart failure are less likely to be admitted to specialized cardiology units, a disparity that may help explain long-known racial differences in heart failure outcomes, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

The retrospective, single-center study is one of the first to demonstrate that racial inequities in the type of care received, either specialized cardiac care or general care, for patients admitted to the hospital with heart failure may drive subsequent racial inequities in heart failure outcomes. Researchers reviewed hospital admissions and discharges for 10 years to yield nearly 2,000 patients treated for heart failure at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

After adjusting for a variety of demographic and clinical factors, the analysis found:
  • Patients who self-identified as black were 9% less likely to be admitted to specialized cardiac care units.
  • Patients who self-identified as Latinx, a gender-neutral term describing a person of Latin American origin or descent, were 17% less likely to be admitted to specialized heart units.
  • Female heart failure patients and those older than 75 were also more likely to be treated on a general medicine floor.

Admission to a heart specialty unit was independently associated with a 16% lower rate of hospital readmission within 30 days. Readmission during the first month of discharge generally may signal poorly managed disease, but often foreshadows worse outcomes and worse overall prognosis in heart failure, the researchers said.

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