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Sudden cardiac death is twice as likely to occur in black patients as in white patients in the United States. A new Penn study researched this phenomenon by monitoring people over six years to understand the various factors behind this disparity. 

While the exact reasons for the racial disparity remain obscure according to Penn Medicine, this study ruled out certain risk factors to help researchers direct further research and treatment. 

Lead author Rajat Deo, an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine, said in Medical Xpress that the study illustrates a necessity for more resources in areas with large black populations, such as free CPR training courses and a higher availability of automated external defibrillators. These resources significantly increase the likelihood of survival among victims of cardiac arrest.

According to Penn Medicine News, the November study by Penn's Perelman School of Medicine marked the first rigorous, prospective population-based analysis for risk factors of cardiac arrest, which affects over 350,000 individuals in the U.S. annually. Penn researchers discovered that racial variations in deadly heart failure cases cannot be accounted for by risk factors, such as smoking or high cholesterol levels.

The six-year study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, after monitoring 22,500 cases of individuals with no history of cardiovascular illness. Black participants in the investigation were more than twice as likely to die of sudden cardiac arrest than white participants.

The study controlled for several factors that increase susceptibility to cardiac arrest — including income, diet and cholesterol levels, smoking, education, and stress. 

The rate of sudden cardiac deaths was 18 deaths per 10,000 black patients each year, compared with seven deaths per 10,000 white patients after controlling for traditional markers of heart health, according to Medical Xpress.

"While greater public health efforts to identify and decrease health risks in black populations will be a critical step in reducing their higher risk of SCD, data suggest that it may not eliminate racial disparities entirely," Deo said to Medical Xpress. "A combination of awareness, education, and resource allocation may help reduce the burden of sudden cardiac death in a city like Philadelphia."

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