Older black patients don't live as long as whites after cardiac arrest in hospital

Care disparities may cause fewer older black patients to survive long-term after a cardiac arrest in the hospital when compared to older white patients, a study published in Circulation found.

Five things to know:

1. The study analyzed nationwide data on longer-term survival rates among 1,112 blacks and 7,652 whites, all over age 65, who were discharged from the hospital alive.

2. The researchers found survival rates were much lower among black patients than among white patients, at 43.6 percent versus 60.2 percent one year after cardiac arrest. The survival rate was 31.6 percent among blacks versus 45.3 percent among whites after three years, and after five years, it was 23.5 percent versus 35.4 percent.

3. Black survivors of in-hospital cardiac arrest were still 28 percent less likely to survive one year, compared to white patients, after the researchers accounted for other factors that might lead to these disparities.

4. Racial differences in hospital treatments and care accounted for only a small part of the difference in survival between black and white patients. About half could be explained by differences in post-discharge care, the researchers found.

5. "There are a number of potential causes for the disparities we observed," study author Lena Chen, MD, told Reuters. "There may be differences in the quality of post-discharge care at a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility, or differences in social support or resources to care for patients in the community, or differences in insurance coverage that affect access to high-quality post-acute care, or something else altogether. We did not have the data to identify the biggest factors contributing to disparities."

Dr. Chen recommends patients inform providers of their wishes regarding resuscitation before being hospitalized. "This will help providers give you the type of care that you want should you suffer from a cardiac arrest," she said.

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