Understanding the Complexity of Heart Failure Risk and Treatment in Black Patients
Although care of patients with heart failure (HF) has improved in the past decade, important disparities in HF outcomes persist based on race/ethnicity. Age-adjusted HF-related cardiovascular disease death rates are higher for Black patients, particularly among young Black men and women whose rates of death are 2.6- and 2.97-fold higher, respectively, than White men and women. Similarly, the rate of HF hospitalization for Black men and women is nearly 2.5-fold higher when compared with Whites, with costs that are significantly higher in the first year after HF hospitalization. While the relative rate of HF hospitalization has improved for other race/ethnic minorities, the disparity in HF hospitalization between Black and White patients has not decreased during the last decade. Although access to care and socioeconomic status have been traditional explanations for the observed racial disparities in HF outcomes, contemporary data suggest that novel factors including genetic susceptibility as well as social determinants of health and implicit bias may play a larger role in health outcomes than previously appreciated. The purpose of this review is to describe the complex interplay of factors that influence racial disparities in HF incidence, prevalence, and disease severity, with a highlight on evolving knowledge that will impact the clinical care and address future research needs to improve HF disparities in Blacks.