Reported incidence of angina or chest pain has fallen over the last 2 decades in seniors aged 65 and older, and among white people 40 and older, but there has been no change in angina rates for black people. So claims new research from the American Heart Association, which is published in their journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
Angina is often a symptom of an underlying heart problem and occurs when the heart is not receiving enough oxygen in the blood. Symptoms of angina include a squeezing sensation in the chest, discomfort in the shoulder, arms, neck, jaw or back, and a feeling of indigestion.
For the new study, the American Heart Association (AHA) researchers analyzed national health survey data, studying the period from 1988-2012.
They found that, in white people aged 40 and older, reports of angina dropped by about a third between the 2001-04 national health survey and the 2009-12 health survey. Looking at the overall angina trends in this group, reports of angina dropped by half from the 1988-94 survey to the 2009-12 survey.
However, the AHA study found no significant change in rates of angina in black people. The authors say that more effective interventions for preventing and controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking cessation may be needed among this population.
The researchers also observed that reported angina incidence had fallen in women aged 65 and older. In this group, reports of angina dropped by almost half between 2001-04 and 2009-12 surveys, and by almost 60% from the 1988-94 survey to the 2009-12 survey.
The findings of the new study are consistent with previous studies that demonstrate a decline in the rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits for angina between 1995 and 2010.
Men aged 64 and over saw a decline in angina of more than 40% during the 1988-94 to 2009-12 period.
The authors note that the national data did not include enough information on Hispanic and other minority groups for the researchers to assess trends.
They also speculate that angina may be more often undiagnosed among some populations. Also, the data relies on patients' own reports, which may be inaccurate.
Despite this, the authors acknowledge that the data is consistent with previous studies that demonstrate a decline in the rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits for angina between 1995 and 2010.
The AHA's Power To End Stroke website contains information aimed at black Americans who are at risk from heart disease or stroke. The website says that "heart disease and stroke are major health risks for all people, but African Americans are at particularly high risk."
The Power To End Stroke site reports that black people have almost twice the risk of first-ever strokes, compared with white people. Also, black people have higher death rates for stroke, compared with white people. The prevalence of high blood pressure among black people in the US is also reported to be the highest in the world.
Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that suggested 1 in 5 women aged 55 and under will not experience chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack.