By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

The rate of hospitalizations due to heart failure has decreased overall in the United States, but black Americans are admitted at a higher rate than other ethnic and racial groups, according to a new study.

In general, the findings are good news because they show fewer people are being diagnosed with heart failure — which means prevention strategies are working — and medications and other treatments are working well for people with cardiovascular disease, said cardiologist and the study’s lead researcher Boback Ziaeian, M.D., Ph.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The study, published Tuesday in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, is the first to report on age-adjusted racial and ethnic differences in nationwide heart failure hospitalization rates.

In looking at data from tens of millions of hospital discharges between 2002 and 2013, researchers found the hospitalization rate dropped about 30 percent.

But what surprised Ziaeian was that blacks were admitted for heart failure at more than twice the rate of whites — a difference that has remained relatively unchanged for over 10 years.

“I think it’s underappreciated how the disparity becomes larger when we account for how much younger the African-American population is compared with whites,” said Ziaeian, a clinical instructor in the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

The researchers also found that U.S. Hispanics and Latinos of any race with heart failure were much less likely to be hospitalized in 2013 than they were in 2002. In addition, their rate of heart failure hospitalization is edging closer to that of their white peers: In 2013, the rate was just 4 percent higher among Hispanic men and 8 percent higher among Hispanic women.

But differences in rates among men and women are troublesome, the authors said. According to the data, the rate of heart failure hospitalizations in 2013 was 39 percent higher in men.