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Why Do Black Women Have Higher Risk of Death From Heart Disease Than White Women?
Racial differences may be barrier to correct diagnosis, study finds (September 5)
Among a group of women with symptoms of angina who were tested for a suspected coronary blockage, nearly three times as many black women as white women died of heart disease. The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, determined whether differences in the women’s angina symptoms could affect the risk of death in these two groups.
Jo-Ann Eastwood, PhD, and colleagues found that for white women, the severity or type of anginal symptoms — whether typical chest pain or more atypical symptoms, such as stomach pain — did not affect outcomes. However, black women tended to have more atypical symptoms, a worse prognosis when diagnosed with heart disease, and a higher risk of related death.
The authors concluded that these racial differences in symptom presentation for coronary artery disease may be a barrier to correct and timely diagnosis and an important contributor to poorer outcomes for black women.
“These results indicate that we need to raise awareness among women and their health care providers of racial differences in anginal symptom presentation in order to improve both diagnosis and outcomes,” said Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Women’s Health.
Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; September 5, 2013.