July 20, 2007 / 2:29 AM / 12 years ago

Race does not affect heart surgery death risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Based on certain factors, one would expect Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans to be at greater risk for death following heart bypass surgery than Caucasians, but new research suggests this is not the case.

A patient’s race appears to have little bearing on their risk of death after bypass surgery, Dr. Ezra Amsterdam from the University of California, Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, told Reuters Health. “It is likely that socioeconomic status, educational level, and insurance status may play a larger role than ethnicity.”

In a study reported in the American College of Cardiology, Amsterdam and associates analyzed data from 21,272 bypass operations to determine the impact that race and other patient factors have on the risk of death after surgery.

As noted, Hispanics, Asians and African Americans were predicted to have higher death rates than Caucasians. However, the actual findings revealed that the death rates were similar in each of the racial groups studied.

There was some evidence, though, that the risk of death may be slightly higher in Asians, but this may have just been a chance finding.

The results suggest that the surgical and medical care that patients receive offset the predicted risk for a particular racial group, the authors state. It is also possible that race is simply not a strong predictor of death after bypass surgery.

According to the researchers, they will continue to monitor these patients to determine if any differences in long-term outcomes emerge between the racial groups.

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, July 1, 2007.

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