PHOENIX – Numbers gathered from the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network show that Hispanics are 51 percent more likely to die waiting for a heart transplant than white patients.
A big reason for the gap is health insurance.
“Many times [Hispanics] don’t have an established family practice physician, they don’t have the insurance, they don’t have a mechanism to seek preventive care to begin treating these heart disease problems early on,” said Dr. Grayson Wheatley of the Arizona Heart Institute. “As a result, they come in and their heart disease is very advanced.”
According to Wheatley, Hispanics tend to spend less time on the transplant waiting list because their heart conditions are far worse when they come in. In some cases their condition deteriorates faster because they are unable to get proper treatment after their diagnosis.
The solution to the problem isn’t one that can be solved instantly, but Wheatley believes public service announcements could make a difference.
“We’ve all seen the public health campaigns like the stop smoking campaign,” said Wheatley. “We probably need some very targeted campaigns that can target the Hispanic community about the dangers of heart disease.”