How Race Affects Stroke Care
According to a recent study, there are a number of disparities in stroke care among Caucasians and non-whites in the U.S. The study shows that minorities may be less likely to undergo potentially life-saving measures, such as clot-busting therapy or procedures to unclog arteries in the neck to improve blood flow to the brain.
In a sample of patients hospitalized for stroke from 2007 to 2011 throughout the U.S., researchers found that procedures designed to improve outcome were underused in minorities and procedures used to assess stroke damage were overused in non-whites. The researchers considered other factors that play a role in determining stroke care--including age, gender, and overall health--as well as the type of facility or hospital.
Non-whites were 20% less likely to receive clot-busting medications and 43% less likely to undergo a procedure to help improve blood flow in the carotid artery. The study showed that minorities were much more likely to have medical interventions that are not widely accepted as standard stroke care, such as feeding tubes (56% more likely than non-whites), mechanical ventilation (44% more likely), and surgery to relieve brain swelling (36% more likely). According to researchers, it’s important to reduce delays in seeking stroke treatment—which are generally longer in minorities—and improve access to care for all stroke patients.
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