Study Finds Younger Blacks Have More Heart Failure


 
 

Mike Stobbe | | Wednesday, March 18, 2009


ATLANTA -- One in 100 black men and women develop heart failure before age 50, according to one of the first long-term studies to look at the life-threatening condition in younger adults. The research suggests blacks in that age group suffer the condition at a rate 20 times higher than whites do - an astounding difference more pronounced than earlier studies had indicated.

However, those findings are based on a very small number of heart failure cases, the authors said, so more study is needed.

The takeaway message is that doctors should be more aggressive about treating young blacks who may be at risk, some experts said.

"Usually this is a disease of the elderly," said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, one of the study's authors. "When this disease happens in 30 and 40 year olds, it's quite dramatic."

The research appears in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Heart failure occurs when the heart loses its ability to pump sufficient blood through the body. It's often fatal, but not always - some suffer disabling shortness of breath, fatigue and retention of fluids in their legs or lungs.

Earlier studies of heart failure, focused mainly on older people, showed heart failure rates were two to three times higher in blacks than whites.

In the new study, the researchers looked at data from more than 5,100 blacks and whites in Chicago; Minneapolis; Birmingham, Ala.; and Oakland, Calif. The participants were ages 18 to 30 at the time they joined the study more than 20 years ago.

Over the years, 27 people developed heart failure by age 50 and all but one were black. Five people died, all of those black.

At the outset, blood pressure levels and weights were similar, no matter which race, said Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at the University of California at San Francisco.

But the researchers found that a disproportionate number of blacks developed high blood pressure in their young adulthood and went on to suffer heart failure. Blacks also were more likely to develop diabetes and chronic kidney disease, and to suffer an impairment in the heart muscle's ability to contract.

It's not clear why more blacks develop those problems so early, Bibbins-Domingo said. Possible explanations range from income and social environment to genetics, she added.

Another mystery: Researchers told those who were diagnosed with high blood pressure to see their doctors about it. But 10 years into the study, the condition was untreated or poorly controlled in 3 out of 4 black patients diagnosed.

That's likely a failure by both doctors and patients, said Dr. Eric Peterson, a Duke University professor of medicine who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

Treatments need to be effective and affordable, and doctors also must follow up with patients to make sure they're taking their medicines and, if they aren't, find out why and address the obstacles, he added.

"We as physicians are so quick to say it's the patients' fault. But I would argue the system has failed," Peterson said.

---

On the Net:

New England Journal: http://nejm.org




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Cardiac and Circulation, Patient Management

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Mechanical CPR is Producing Resuscitation Results Beyond Expectations

Discover why clinical studies are finding mechanical CPR just as effective as optimally-performed CPR.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

New York First Responders Take Extraordinary Steps to Help Residents

Snow causes fire and EMS crews to go beyond call of duty.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Raw Video: Explosion and Fire at California Business

Over a dozen hurt in Santa Paula blaze.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Four Workers Killed at Texas Chemical Plant

Five employees exposed to methyl mercaptan in La Porte.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Worker Killed in North Carolina Bridge Collapse

A fatal construction site collapse occurred in Wake County.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Plane Crashes into Chicago Home

Pilot reported engine trouble after takeoff.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Switzerland Landslide Kills Two, Injures Four

Slide hits residential building near Lugano.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

World Trade Center Rescue

Technical rescue work is done at nation’s tallest skyscraper.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >