Incidence of sudden cardiac arrest higher in Black people
Incidence of sudden cardiac arrest higher in Black people. IMAGE/iStockphoto
In a survey released on October 17, the Heart Rhythm Society, along with Ipsos Healthcare, reported that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) claims 350,000 lives in the United States each year, at a rate of nearly 1,000 people per day. Despite the fact that sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, only 18 percent of African Americans were aware of the condition, compared with 24 percent of the larger population. Physicians also demonstrated a startling lack of knowledge about sudden cardiac arrest, with 90 percent of African Americans saying their doctors had never talked to them about their possible sudden cardiac arrest risk.
Because of a cascade of risk factors — higher rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, and other health problems — African Americans also have a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest. “African Americans’ increased chances of losing their lives to sudden cardiac arrest may also be attributed to a lack of access to proper care,” Walter Clair, M.D., a cardiologist at Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute in Nashville adds.
The Heart Rhythm Society-Ipsos survey illustrates his point. The survey found that even when African Americans were diagnosed with a problem that might lead to sudden cardiac arrest, they were less likely to be given the optimum preventive treatment: an implanted defibrillator (a device to regulate the heart’s rhythm) or appropriate medications.
Many African Americans may also be less concerned about their risk of sudden cardiac arrest because they think it’s the same as a heart attack.