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Racial/Ethnic Differences in Cardiac Care: The Weight of the Evidence


Summary Report

Numerous studies over the past two decades have documented racial and ethnic differences in care for heart conditions. To assess the quality of the evidence and to summarize the information for a physician audience, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation collaborated with the American College of Cardiology Foundation to review the body of research on racial/ethnic differences in cardiac care.

There is credible evidence that minority patients are less likely than white patients to receive invasive cardiac procedures such as catheterization, angioplasty, bypass surgery and thrombolytic therapy even when patient characteristics are similar. These disparities remain even after adjusting for such factors as age, sex, insurance status and heart disease severity. Of the 81 studies investigating racial/ethnic differences in care over the past two decades, 68 found disparities in care for at least one of the racial/ethnic minority groups under study.

This summary report is one component of an initiative to raise physician awareness about disparities in medical care.