CRT-D therapy misses black and Hispanic patients, Duke study concludes

Cardiac resynchronization therapy with defibrillation, or CRT-D implants, have long proven themselves as one of the biggest advances yet in treating patients with chronic heart failure. But a new Duke University study concludes the devices are reaching far fewer blacks and Hispanics than white patients, shutting out a large number of people who could benefit from the treatment.

In other words, devices made by Medtronic ($MDT), Boston Scientific ($BSX), St. Jude Medical ($STJ), Biotronik and others aren't reaching everyone they could. As Reuters reports, researchers looked at 100,000-plus patients who were eligible for the implant between 2006 and 2010. The percentage of white patients who received the implant grew from 81% to 84%. But black and Hispanic patients had a much lower rate. Out of that eligible population base, the number of black patients who received the implant grew from 78% to 81% over the four year period. For Hispanics, the number inched up from 77% to 79%.

Over 5 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic heart failure, according to the Reuters article.

The research team said the disparity could be caused by a number of factors, including access to care, provider biases and personal preferences. Whatever the reason, the study shows the technology is far from reaching everyone it could, Duke University School of Medicine researcher Dr. Zubin Eapen told Reuters.

"New technologies tend to diffuse unevenly across racial and ethnic lines," he said. "This is an example of underutilization of a recommended therapy in eligible patients."

For more details, read the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

- read the Reuters story
- here's the journal abstract