One-Quarter of Black MI Patients Skip Regular Checkups


More than two-thirds of African American patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction say the event was a “wake-up call,” but a quarter of patients also report that they did not see their physician regularly after the attack, according to a survey released by the National Medical Association.

“Obviously, there's a disconnect here,” said Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Physicians and researchers need to better understand this contradiction because it's an opportunity to improve outcomes among African American patients, Dr. Yancy said during a teleconference sponsored by the National Medical Association (NMA) and supported by GlaxoSmithKline.

The survey, which was commissioned by the NMA and supported by GlaxoSmithKline, was conducted online among 502 African American adults aged 18 and older who had experienced MI.

African Americans have a significantly higher risk for virtually every cardiovascular disease than their white counterparts, Dr. Yancy said. And when it comes to MI, African American men have the highest incidence of first heart attacks, followed by white men, and closely followed by African American women.

But despite the increased risk, there is a lack of awareness, Dr. Yancy said. “Awareness needs to be elevated in a major way.”

The NMA survey showed that most respondents saw their MI as a significant event, with 64% saying they felt that they had been given a second chance at life, and 46% saying that they were significantly worried about having another heart attack.

However, the survey also found that they were not taking steps to avoid another cardiac event. For example, 22% of respondents reported not taking medication exactly as prescribed and 21% said that they do not monitor their eating habits.

The survey results also revealed that African American patients are in need of increased support in the period following a myocardial infarction. Fewer than half of respondents (47%) said they had family and friends who remind them to take their medications and 27% said they did not feel knowledgeable about how to manage their health after an attack.

Part of the problem may come down to socioeconomic factors, Dr. Yancy said. Patients may be neglecting their medications and physician visits because they lack the resources and support.

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