LOS ANGELES -- Black men and women are twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease as white men and women, according to a study led by University of Alabama doctors.

Death rates from heart attacks and coronary heart disease have fallen since the 1970s, but that statement rings far truer for whites than for blacks. Studies have shown a widening gap between whites and blacks in heart disease deaths and in heart attack hospitalizations, and new research pins down just how deadly that difference is.

A paper published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association included 24,443 participants who didn't have coronary heart disease when they were first enrolled from 2003 to 2007, and were followed through December 2009 (for an average of 4.2 years).

During that time, there were 659 coronary heart disease incidents.

When adjusted for age and region of residence, black men were 15 percent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease. Black women were 48 percent more likely than white women to suffer from coronary heart disease, though women fared better than men in general.

Although blacks and whites in the study were about the same average age, blacks suffered more risk factors associated with heart disease. They were more likely to smoke and have diabetes, higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and lower kidney function.



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