Study reveals ethnic differences in treatment for heart disease

South Asian patients are less likely to receive treatment for coronary artery disease than white patients, finds a study in this week’s BMJ.

Researchers in London compared rates of coronary revascularisation (a procedure to restore adequate blood supply to the heart) in 502 south Asian and 2,974 white patients with heart disease.

Although the same proportion of south Asian and white patients were deemed appropriate to undergo revascularisation, south Asian patients were less likely to receive it than white patients. This difference cannot be explained by physician bias or socioeconomic status of patients, say the authors, but they suggest that south Asian and white patients may differ in their understanding of the risks and benefits of the procedure.

These findings provide the strongest evidence to date that coronary revascularisation among comparable patients with heart disease is less likely to be carried out in south Asian patients than in white patients in the United Kingdom, say the authors.

The national service framework for coronary heart disease in England and Wales explicitly requires the equitable provision of revascularisation between ethnic groups; this may not be happening, they conclude.

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