Racial bias may impact access to heart transplants

Oct. 20, 2022 — A new study shows life-saving heart procedures were performed on white adults twice as often as on black adults, leading researchers to suspect racial bias among clinical decision makers.

“The lives disabled or lost are simply too many,” said Wendy C. Taddei-Peters, PhD, study author. in a press release national institutes of health.

The study looked at the care of 377 patients at 21 US advanced heart failure centers and found that 22% of white adults and 11% of black adults had received a heart transplant or heart pump.

Black Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than white people, according to Government data 2018.

The researchers controlled for variables such as disease severity and patient treatment preferences. Although 18 black adults and 36 white adults died during the study, there was no statistical link between patient race and death rates, according to the National Institutes of Health summary.

The researchers’ inability to explain the disparity in procedures, however, suggested that patient care was influenced by unconscious bias and overt racism on the part of health care providers, according to the institute, which helped to fund the study.

“The totality of the evidence suggests that we as heart failure care providers are perpetuating current inequities,” study author Thomas M. Cascino, MD, said in the press release. “However, recognizing disparities is not enough. As physicians and health care providers, we need to find ways to create equitable change.

The study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and is part of ongoing research that includes examining the disparity in heart failure treatment .

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