Racial and Ethnic Disparities Exist in U.S. Stroke Care

Disparities affected by language and cultural barriers, socioeconomic status, insurance status

MONDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Racial and ethnic minorities experience disparities in many aspects of stroke care as compared to whites, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association published online May 26 in Stroke.

Salvador Cruz-Flores, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues on behalf of the American Heart Association Stroke Council, evaluated the effect of race and ethnicity on stroke epidemiology, personal beliefs, access to care, treatment response, and involvement in clinical research, and assessed the factors that may explain the disparities. Relevant literature was reviewed, focusing on reports published since 1972.

The investigators identified differences in the distribution of risk factors, stroke incidence, prevalence, and mortality among different ethnic and racial groups. They found that these disparities are affected by differences in socioeconomic status, insurance status, feelings about the health care system, and the limited number of minority health care providers. The statement also details that minorities use emergency services less, are delayed arriving and wait longer at the emergency department, and are less likely to receive thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke. They also experience longer stays in rehabilitation and have worse functional outcomes than whites. Minorities participate less in clinical research, due to factors that include limited awareness and lack of trust.

"Racial and ethnic disparities in stroke exist and include differences in the biological determinants of disease and disparities throughout the continuum of care, including access to and quality of care," the authors write.

Several study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnological industries.

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