South Asians in Britain in heart attack risk zone

May 5th, 2008 - 11:24 am ICT by admin  

London, May 5 (IANS) Seven out of 10 people with suspected angina in Britain are not receiving appropriate x-ray tests, putting them at risk of heart attacks, researchers have found. Women, elderly people, those of South Asian descent and people living in the most deprived areas are particularly unlikely to be given the test, said researcher Neha Sekhri and colleagues from Barts and the London NHS Trust, and universities in London and Bristol.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that patients not made to undergo an x-ray test known as a coronary angiography were more likely to die from heart disease. They were also more likely to be admitted to hospital with unstable angina or a heart attack.

Angina causes people to have regular chest pains when they exert themselves, but not when they are at rest.

The study looked back at the records of over 10,000 people who attended six chest pain clinics in England between 1996 and 2002. A panel of experts identified over a thousand of these people for investigation by coronary angiography, and researchers then looked to see whether they had received an angiogram or not.

Coronary angiography is a procedure where doctors inject a special dye, which shows up on x-rays, into the heart or the arteries that surround it.

The dye reveals how well the heart is working and if the arteries leading to it are narrowed or blocked. The procedure is performed when people are suspected of having stable angina, which is caused by a narrowing of the arteries around the heart.

The researchers suggest that “there could be a number of possible explanations for the results, including different referral methods, or patients not wanting to undergo the procedure”.

The Knowledge Service of the state-run National Health Service (NHS) said the findings of this study “will probably lead to investigation of what is stopping people having coronary angiography and the feasibility of using standardised assessment measures to reduce the inequalities seen”.

The researchers found that three categories of patients - those over 65 years, women and people of south Asian origin - were less likely to receive coronary angiography than those who were aged under 50 years, men or white.

People in the most deprived fifth of the population also tended to be less likely to receive angiography than those from more affluent areas.

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