Recent research finds that poor Americans have a significantly greater chance of dying within five years of having a heart attack than their richer counterparts, but race still plays a role.
Racism Plays A Role In The Length Of Life…
Although Black residents in disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to have a greater chance of mortality than their neighbors in affluent ZIP codes, the researchers discovered that poor Black patients are also more likely to die following a heart attack than poor white patients.
The researchers examined local income and five-year mortality rates for about 32,000 heart attack patients for the report. Both were originally treated in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California hospital system between 2006 and 2016. Many of them had “healthy” health care, according to the study’s authors.
According to lead author Dr. Jesse Goitia, the study aimed to look at community income as a potential risk factor for increased mortality following a heart attack.
Based on wages, jobs, schooling, and household data by ZIP code, each patient received a community disadvantage ranking. Almost two-thirds of the patients lived in more affluent areas. However, about one-third of the patients, about 12,000, reside in deprived communities, ranked in the bottom 75th percentile. In other words, about one-quarter of the neighborhoods were worse.
According to Goitia, people from deprived neighborhoods died at a higher rate after a heart attack.
According to the report, people living in the lowest-ranking ZIP codes have a 5% greater chance of dying within five years of having a heart attack.
According to Goitia, this observation is consistent with previous studies indicating that lower socioeconomic status is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
His researchers also discovered that Black patients from low-income areas had the highest mortality rates among all racial or ethnic groups.
In other words, while Black patients from well-resourced areas had comparable results to white patients from well-resourced communities, being Black and disadvantaged was considered the worst-case situation, according to Goitia.
According to the report, black patients from deprived areas had a 19% higher chance of death within five years of having a heart attack than wealthier white patients. Their risk was also 14% higher than that of disadvantaged white patients.
Goitia explained that his team’s results draw more concerns than definitive hypotheses for the time being. According to him, patients from poorer areas are more likely to have risk factors for adverse results due to proximity to green spaces for physical exercise, access to nutritious meals, trouble getting to health care appointments, and difficulty filling prescriptions.
Dr. Albert, the president of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Washington DC, agreed with Goitia that further testing is required. According to her, this report backs up recent research that shows community adversity is a major determinant of wellbeing.
However, Albert added that further research is required to explain how many of the hardwired forces into the way American society operates will contribute to different types of community deprivation.
Meanwhile, Andrea Roberts, a senior research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, emphasized that other findings have offered valuable hints.
According to previous studies, Black Americans receive worse health care than whites, and stressors such as segregation and hunger, are detrimental to one’s spirit, according to Roberts, who analyzed the results.
However, Roberts warned that the current report did not seem to resolve a range of issues that may affect the results. The researchers, for example, did not appear to determine the seriousness of the participants’ heart attacks.
According to Roberts, it’s likely that Black patients with minor heart problems do not end up in the hospital, while those who do end up in the hospital have serious attacks, which is why their mortality rates are higher.
Or, she speculated, it’s either that Blacks had more heart attacks in general for some reason or that more serious heart attacks kill them instantly, preventing them from reaching the hospital.
All of this suggests that, on its own, the current study cannot say unequivocally how much neighborhood inequality combines with ethnicity to raise the likelihood of post-heart attack mortality in Black patients, according to Roberts.