Closing the Heart Attack Gap

Heart attack care for Asians improving

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Heart attack care for Asian Americans has been lacking. In recent years a new report shows substantial improvements in care have helped level the playing field in ensuring Asians receive adequate care.

The improvements in medical care for Asians who have suffered heart attacks is now comparable to that of whites with only a handful of exceptions.

"Seek treatment for heart disease risk factors such as hypertension."

Dr. Feng Qian, the study’s lead author and a research assistant professor in the department of anesthesiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said that equitable care is possible across racial and ethnic groups through improvement initiatives such as the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines Coronary Artery Disease program. He noted that improved care is more significant and sustainable the longer hospitals participate in the program.

Though Asians are one of the fastest growing racial groups, Dr. Qian said very little was previously known about the clinical experience and outcomes of Asian heart attack patients.

During the study researchers reviewed data from 107,403 Asian American and white heart attack patients through the Get With The Guidelines-Coronary Artery Disease database. Asians represented 4.1 percent of the participants, which were treated at 382 hospitals between 2003 and 2008.

During the five-year period care improved across all measures, including the prescription of blood pressure drugs and improved speed in angioplasty to open clogged arteries for both Asians and whites.

However Asians were less likely to receive aspirin after discharge as compared to whites at 94 percent versus 97 percent. Asians also were less likely to receive smoking cessation counseling, with 83 percent receiving the assistance as compared to 93 percent of whites. Asians also were slightly less likely to receive medication to lower cholesterol.

Investigators also found that Asians were more likely to die in the hospital at 11.5 percent as compared to 5.8 percent, though that may be more attributed to individual patient characteristics instead of care quality. Asians were more likely to be older, have cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes and smoking. Adjusting for these risk factors lowered the death rate, but did not adjust for the entire difference.

Researchers said some treatment differences could stem from language barriers or cultural differences that could affect when or how they seek healthcare.

The Get With The Guidelines–Coronary Artery Disease program was funded in part through the American Heart Association Pharmaceutical Roundtable and an unrestricted educational grant from drugmaker Merck.

The study was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 12, 2012
Last Updated:
January 13, 2012