Sudden cardiac arrest more common among blacks
Sudden cardiac arrest is the result of a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system that keeps blood from being pumped through the body. It contributes to about 350,000 U.S. deaths annually and accounts for approximately 50 percent of all cardiovascular-related deaths, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
The study, published in the AHA journal Circulation, found that blacks and whites share the same rate of coronary artery disease, the strongest predictor of sudden cardiac arrest risk. However, blacks had significantly higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic kidney failure – all strong risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest and other cardiovascular diseases.
Researchers found that blacks participating in the study also had higher rates of congestive heart failure, left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH, an enlargement and thickening of the heart walls) and long QT syndrome, a problem with the heart’s electrical system.
“It’s an interesting study,” says Dr. Dory Jarzabkowski, an Advocate Heart Institute cardiologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “It confirms what has been seen clinically for years, especially in regard to the risks associated with hypertension and LVH.”
The study also found that, on average, blacks were six years younger than whites when experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Most blacks were under age 65 at the time of the event, while the majority of whites were over 65.
“In black patients, we found our study reinforces the importance of a healthy lifestyle to avoid developing certain sudden cardiac arrest risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease,” study lead author Dr. Sumeet S. Chugh said in a press release.
Dr. Chugh warned health care professionals to not focus solely on reducing coronary artery disease when caring for black patients, but to also be mindful of the broader spectrum of risk factors these patients may have.
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