A new study reveals that black people with malfunctioning valves are less likely to get heart valve replacement surgery which is necessary to save their life. This study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
This study investigated the quality and rate of treatment for the aortic valve stenosis in black people. This is a severe medical condition where the heart valves cannot function properly thus inducing blood leakage.
The new heart valve replacement surgery has increased the chance of saving life in people with valve stenosis. If not treated, this condition is fatal and the patient may lose his life within a couple of years. But if they get access to the treatment, they can get back to a normal life.
Going through the e-records of 32,853 people diagnosed with severe aortic valve stenosis showed that valve replacement cases were overall low in people of all races. Only 36% of patients were able to get their hands on this life-saving treatment within one year of being diagnosed.
Dr. J. Matthew Brennan, the main author of this study expresses that nearly 2/3rd people are unable to get the heart valve replacement surgery which could kill them otherwise. Despite adjusting all the socio-economic factors, Black people were found to be least likely to get this replacement surgery as compared to the white men. This difference is 22.9% vs. 31% within one year of diagnosis and it is huge.
This gap was slightly reduced in 2015 and it became 29.5% and 35.2% in the Black and White people respectively. This year, many Black people were able to get transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR) which are less risky and invasive surgery for stenosis patients.
In this TAVR surgery, the doctor uses an artificial valve and insert it in place of the ill-functioning valve. This process has minimal risks involved and the patient recovers faster.
Despite having progress in reducing the gap between racial discrimination in getting treatment, Black men with aortic valve stenosis are still not receiving the care that they need.
Another angle of this study is that it has only gone through those patients who were able to get access to the hospital. There are many other people mainly from minority groups who don’t even receive a diagnosis.
The study researchers hope to find new studies focusing on understanding these racial differences and how to get over them. They also hope that people will be more aware of this disease and its complications thus seek medical care whenever needed.
This study has a high significance for being the first documented proof of a distinctive racial disparity in Black people, diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis. The only way to get over this disparity is by going to the bottom. For this, healthcare centers and organizations can join hands and set a plan for future studies and practical ways to remove this gap.