AHA logoA study conducted at the Department of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia at Cleveland, Ohio suggests that people in the lower socioeconomic levels may face death within five to ten years from the time of heart surgery. This death rate has been administered irrespective of race or gender.

The study analyzed a total of 23,330 people who survived their heart surgeries between the years 1995 and 2005. Out of this number, 15,156 were white men, 6,932 white women, 678 black men and 564 black women. The study elaborated that each drop in socioeconomic position had a corresponding ‘dose-dependent’ decrease in the long-term survival rate.

Scientist Colleen G. Koch, cardiac anesthesiologist and vice chair for research and education in the Department of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio commented that, “We were surprised that consistently and pervasively, through every way of looking at the data, it turns out this isn’t about skin color or gender. It’s about being poor.”

After adjusting to the existing risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, patients from the lowest socioeconomic position seemingly had a 19 to 26 percent higher chance of dying within five to ten years of surgery. These results were generated in comparison to those patients that had undergone surgery but did not belong to the low socioeconomic class.

Patients in the lower socioeconomic classes reportedly suffered from severe atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, prior heart attacks, left ventricular dysfunction and heart failures. These patients seemingly also suffered from hypertension, prior stroke, and peripheral artery diseases. They were also treated for diabetes, were smokers and had severe obstructive pulmonary disease.

The research revealed that a large number of black men and women participants belonged to the lower socioeconomic classes rather than white men and women. To determine the socioeconomic positions, scientists investigated six categories of U.S Census data linked to patients’ neighborhood which included heads like median household income, educational level and median home value. Patients’ socioeconomic factors and risk-adjusted health outcomes after six-months of surgery were also examined. The median follow-up was conducted 5.8 years later.

The team kept a tab on heart bypass and valve surgery patients because of the known risk factors and the results garnered from the usual heart operations.

Koch remarked that. “There’s something in particular about the follow-up period in the 10 years afterward that’s making them more likely to die.”

The death rate among these patients from lower socioeconomic levels was not that prominent when the patients stayed-on in the hospital following surgery. According to Koch lack referrals to cardiac rehabilitation programs after surgery, educational barriers and financial obstacles could all contribute to poor health outcomes in follow-up years.

The mortality rate among these patients may be improved by working on the link to primary prevention, identifying risk factors, delivering secondary prevention and increasing access to long-term interventions.

The findings of the research have been a part of the American Heart Association journal.