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Press release

Does guideline-based treatment prevent racial disparities in cardiovascular outcomes?

Philadelphia | October 26, 2023

A secondary analysis of data from the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) cohort study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology indicates that black and nonblack women with obstructive coronary artery disease had similar outcomes

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for women within most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. A new study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, published by Elsevier, characterizes the risk profile for black and nonblack women with obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) enrolled in the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) cohort study. It concludes that racial and ethnic disparities in long-term cardiovascular outcomes were not observed among women with obstructive CAD recruited from university/academic centers who received guideline-based treatment.

Prior studies had demonstrated striking disparities in heart disease outcomes in black versus nonblack women with nearly 20% higher rates of cardiovascular mortality in black women. However, reasons for these disparities have been unclear. The authors of the present study set out to characterize the risk profile for black and nonblack women with obstructive CAD and explore the factors associated with long-term adverse outcomes in this population using data from the WISE study.

Lead investigator Janet Wei, MD, Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, explains: “Over the last two decades, the WISE cohort studies have provided data to help us understand the pathophysiology for women with ischemic heart disease. In the original cohort, which over-sampled black women in university/academic centers, one-third of the women had obstructive CAD. Prior studies indicate an adverse role of race and ethnicity in obstructive CAD, yet it remains unclear what contributes to this adversity. We did not observe these racial and ethnic disparities in long-term cardiovascular outcomes among those women with obstructive CAD enrolled in the WISE cohort.”

The original WISE cohort recruited 944 eligible women with symptoms and/or signs of myocardial ischemia undergoing clinically indicated coronary angiography from September 1996 to March 2000 in university/academic centers. Of the 944 women (mean age 58±12; 17% non-Hispanic black), 364 (38%) were diagnosed with CAD. The nonblack group included predominantly white women, with a minority comprised of Asian, Hispanic, Native American women.

Caption: A secondary analysis of data from the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) cohort study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology indicates that black and nonblack women with obstructive coronary artery disease receiving guideline-based treatment at academic medical centers had similar outcomes (Credit: iStock.com/Riska).

In this current secondary analysis of the WISE cohort, investigators found that compared to nonblack women, black women had a relatively higher burden of cardiovascular risk factors (obesity and hypertension) and overall lower socioeconomic position (lower levels of education and income and higher proportion of public health insurance). Yet long-term cardiovascular outcomes, including death from heart disease, in women with obstructive CAD were similar between black and nonblack women.

Because the cohort of women was enrolled in university/academic centers and black women had similar or higher use of guideline-directed therapy for CAD including statin cholesterol-lowering medication, ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin 2 receptor blockers, the researchers postulate that black women with CAD treated in university/academic centers may experience less racial and ethnic discrimination and receive appropriate guideline-directed therapy.

Recent studies have attributed social determinants of health and structural racism to racial disparities in cardiovascular health. They suggest that if racial disparities in cardiovascular treatment can be reduced through evidence-based, guideline-directed cardiovascular care, then racial disparities in cardiovascular outcomes can be lessened or eliminated.

Dr. Wei concludes: "In summary, from the original WISE cohort of women recruited from university/academic centers, we do not observe racial and ethnic disparities in long-term major adverse cardiovascular events or cardiovascular mortality in women with obstructive CAD. Physician and community education campaigns aimed at evidence-based and guideline-directed care should be instituted to mitigate structural racism in cardiovascular disease in community healthcare settings.”

In an accompanying editorial, Amélie Paquin, MD, MSc, Quebec Heart and Lung Institute, and Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, and colleagues acknowledge the researchers’ efforts to provide race-specific data from the WISE Study, thereby contributing to reducing the gap in cardiovascular disparities.

Dr. Paquin comments: “This study is of great interest because the authors highlight an important and still unanswered question pertaining to the impact of quality of care on cardiovascular outcomes among black women: do academic centers provide more inclusive cardiovascular care than community centers? The authors raise interesting hypotheses regarding the potential role of institutional factors in improving cardiovascular outcomes among black women. More scientific and clinical programs dedicated to black women are needed to better identify, understand, and reduce the gaps that they continue to experience in cardiovascular health.”

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Notes for editors

The research letter is “Long-term Adverse Outcomes in Black Women with Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease: A Study of the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) Cohort,” by Judy M. Luu, MD, PhD; Galen Cook-Wiens, MS; Carl J. Pepine, MD; Eileen M. Handberg, PhD; Steven E. Reis, MD; Vera Bittner, MD; George Sopko, MD; C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD; and Janet Wei, MD (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2023.08.010).

The article is openly available at https://www.onlinecjc.ca/article/S0828-282X(23)01619-7.

This study was supported in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Center for Research Resources, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, Department of Defense, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.

The editorial is “The Complexity of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cardiovascular Health: A Role for Underrepresented Population-Focused Clinics?” by Amélie Paquin, MD, MSc, Alexandra Bastiany, MD, and Marie-Eve Piché, MD, PhD (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2023.09.016).

The editorial is openly available at https://www.onlinecjc.ca/article/S0828-282X(23)01669-0.

Both articles appear online ahead of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, volume 39, issue 11 (November 2023) published by Elsevier.

Full text of the articles is also available to credentialed journalists upon request. Contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or [email protected] to obtain copies. Journalists wishing to speak to the study’s authors should contact Cara Martinez, MA, Marketing & Communications Department, Cedars-Sinai, at +1 310 562 7821 (mobile) or [email protected]. To reach the editorial’s authors for comment, contact Amélie Paquin, MD, MSc, at [email protected].

About the Canadian Journal of Cardiology

The Canadian Journal of Cardiology is the official journal of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. It is a vehicle for the international dissemination of new knowledge in cardiology and cardiovascular science, particularly serving as a major venue for the results of Canadian cardiovascular research and Society guidelines. The journal publishes original reports of clinical and basic research relevant to cardiovascular medicine as well as editorials, review articles, case reports, and papers on health outcomes, policy research, ethics, medical history, and political issues affecting practice. www.onlinecjc.ca

About the Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Stanley Nattel, MD, is Paul-David Chair in Cardiovascular Electrophysiology and Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal and Director of the Electrophysiology Research Program at the Montreal Heart Institute Research Center.

About the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS)

The CCS is the national voice for cardiovascular clinicians and scientists, representing more than 2,300 cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and other heart health specialists across Canada. We advance heart health for all by setting standards for excellence in heart health and care, building the knowledge and expertise of the heart team, and influencing policy and advocating for the heart health of all Canadians. For further information on the CCS visit https://www.ccs.ca/en(opens in new tab/window).

About Elsevier

As a global leader in scientific information and analytics, Elsevier helps researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society. We do this by facilitating insights and critical decision-making with innovative solutions based on trusted, evidence-based content and advanced AI-enabled digital technologies.

We have supported the work of our research and healthcare communities for more than 140 years. Our 9,500 employees around the world, including 2,500 technologists, are dedicated to supporting researchers, librarians, academic leaders, funders, governments, R&D-intensive companies, doctors, nurses, future healthcare professionals and educators in their critical work. Our 2,900 scientific journals and iconic reference books include the foremost titles in their fields, including Cell Press, The Lancet and Gray’s Anatomy.

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