Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Life Expectancy After Acute Myocardial Infarction


Emily M Bucholz, Shuangge Ma, Sharon-Lise T Normand, and Harlan M Krumholz. 2015. “Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Life Expectancy After Acute Myocardial Infarction.” Circulation, 132, 14, Pp. 1338-46.


BACKGROUND: Previous studies have been unable to disentangle the negative associations of black race and low socioeconomic status (SES) with long-term outcomes of patients after acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Such information could assist in efforts to address both racial and socioeconomic disparities. METHODS AND RESULTS: We used data from the Cooperative Cardiovascular Project, a prospective cohort study of Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with AMI with 17 years of follow-up, to evaluate the relationship between race, area-level SES (measured by zip code-level median household income), and life expectancy after AMI. Life expectancy was estimated by using Cox proportional hazards regression with extrapolation using exponential models. Of the 141 095 patients with AMI, 6.3% were black and 6.8% resided in low-SES areas; 26% of black patients lived in low-SES areas in comparison with 5.7% of white patients. Post-myocardial infarction life expectancy estimates were shorter for black patients than for white patients across all socioeconomic levels in patients ≤ 75 years of age. After adjustment for patient and treatment characteristics, the association between race and life expectancy persisted but was attenuated. Younger black patients (<68 years) had shorter life expectancies than white patients, whereas older black patients had longer life expectancies. The largest white-black gap in life expectancy occurred in patients residing in high- and medium-SES areas (P=0.02 interaction). CONCLUSIONS: Black and white patients residing in low-SES areas have similar life expectancies after AMI, which are lower than those living in higher-SES areas. Racial disparities were most prominent among patients living in high-SES areas.