Hospital survival rates vary by race in heart patients

The odds of surviving a hospital stay are in favor of Hispanic patients over white patients with heart failure, according to a study published in Circulation: Heart Failure. Despite having the same quality of care, survival rates for hospitalized heart failure patients varies by ethnicity, depending on heart function.

Researchers reviewed data from 2005 through 2010 from 247 hospitals that participated in the American Heart Association's Get with The Guidelines Heart Failure quality improvement program. Although at higher risk for developing heart failure, according to the study, Hispanics were 50 percent less likely than non-Hispanic whites to die during their hospital stays among patients with normal heart function, according to the association news release.

"One possible reason for the survival difference between heart failure patients with preserved heart function is that Hispanics tend to be younger and may not be as sick as hospitalized white heart failure patients," said lead study author Rey P. Vivo, a fellow in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston. "That could be because Hispanics are more likely to have inadequate or no health insurance. So, they are more likely to go to the hospital for their care, versus seeking care in doctors' offices or outpatient clinics."

However, for patients with reduced heart function, there were no differences in survival rates, study authors noted.

As the first study to compare care and outcomes of Hispanic to non-Hispanic heart failure patients that looks at heart function, Vivo said the results are encouraging. Despite other reports about variation in care correlating to ethnic disparities, the study showed participating hospitals improved their adherence to quality guidelines for all heart failure patients, regardless of their ethnicity.

For more information:
- read the press release
- here's the study abstract
- see the U.S. News & World Report article
- see the article  

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