Muscular dystrophy a group of inherited muscle diseases may often result in early death through respiratory or heart failure. It now seems that the lifespan of patients with this ailment depends upon their race. A recent study believes that due to technological advances, white men and boys are living longer with muscular dystrophy as compared to African-American men and boys. It was also discovered that white women with muscular dystrophy live an average of 12 years longer than African-American women with the disease.

During the study, experts examined death records of 18,315 people whose death was linked with muscular dystrophy in the United States from 1986 through 2005. Scientists claim that at this time period supportive medications and many advances in respiratory and heart care were developed and applied to patients with muscular dystrophy. Investigations revealed that the average age at death elevated by 1.09 years every year for white men. But increase in average age at death was increased by only 0.25 years for African-American men.

Aileen Kenneson, PhD, who conducted the study while with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the study author affirmed, “More research is needed to determine the causes of this difference between whites and African-Americans with muscular dystrophy so it can be addressed. Possible contributing factors could be differences in the types of muscular dystrophy, environmental or genetic factors, other health conditions such as high blood pressure, individual social and economic factors or access to and use of treatment options.”

In men with cardiomyopathy, weakening of the heart linked to muscular dystrophy, the average age at death probably heightened by 1.3 years annually for white men. On the other hand, elevation of 0.3 years was monitored for African-American men. Investigations and analyses have apparently highlighted the fact that African-American patients have worse availability to health care and inferior outcomes than white patients.

The study will be published in the September 14, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.