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Socioeconomic disparities in sudden cardiac arrest


Sudden cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in adults in Western society today. 


Cardiac arrest is the end result of disease that gradually wrecks havoc on the blood vessels in the heart in the form of inflammation causing plaques and subsequent narrowing and ultimately closure of important nutrient providing highways that supply the heart with the necessary substances for life. 


After a cardiac arrest "time is (heart) muscle" and treatment must be instituted immediately.  A temporizing measure is ACDs (defibrillators) that attempt to shock the heart back into a perfusing rhythm - a rhythm that allows the heart to move blood around the body.  But ultimately, if emergency intervention is not immediately initiated (and many times, even if it is) death is inevitable. 


This study shows that out-of-hospital cardiac arrests were more common in poor neighborhoods.  The reason for this is multi-faceted, but the "previous studies have shown that uninsured people in the US under 65 are more likely to have undiagnosed cardiovascular disease and are less likely to seek out professional help to manage their risk factors than people with health insurance, and this underdiagnosis and undertreatment could be increasing the risk of sudden cardiac arrest."


BUT it's more than simply being uninsured because in Canada 'everyone' is insured and "despite universal healthcare in Canada, people in poorer areas have a higher burden of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and have a lower chance of undergoing cardiac catheterization after an acute MI or getting an ICD after being admitted to the hospital with heart failure."


The article goes on to say:  this "not surprising in light of many studies showing that lower socioeconomic status is associated with worse health outcomes for almost every type of disease, including cancer."


So what to make of this? 


In simplest terms, poor people (regardless of insurance status or access to healthcare) are underdiagnosed, undertreated, not followed very well, and these factors contribute to premature death. 


Now WHY are these poor people experiencing these disparities?  Is it possible that many more of these poor people happen to be brown?  If so, this study can be extrapolated to conclude:  people of color are more likely than their white counterparts to die of illness and disease common to their culture.


-Source:  theHeart.org