Residents of predominately black ZIP codes in the Chicago area are five times more likely than those in predominately white areas to have a leg or foot amputated, according to a study published on Saturday in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.
For the study, Joseph Feinglass, a health policy researcher at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and William Pearce, director of vascular surgery at the medical school, looked at hospital discharge data from the state health department.
According to the Sun-Times
, thousands of blacks in Chicago have had all or part of one limb amputated because of complications from either diabetes or peripheral arterial disease. The surgery is considered a last-resort treatment, the Sun-Times
The study indicated that the racial gap in amputations remained unchanged as the total number of amputations in northern Illinois dropped over the past 20 years. The reasons for the disparity are complex, Feinglass said. Blacks have higher rates of diabetes and conditions such as hypertension that can lead to PAD, the Sun-Times
Blacks also are more likely than whites or Hispanics to smoke, which can lead to poor circulation, and less likely to receive high-quality medical care, according to the Sun-Times
. A previous study found that blacks are less likely than others to receive surgeries that could prevent the loss of a limb.
In addition, black diabetics are less likely to adhere to strict foot care, medication and blood sugar-monitoring regimens or have access to resources that could help them, the Sun-Times
reports. Because of this, blacks tend to be sicker by the time they receive help, Pearce said.
Romana Hasnaian-Wynia, director of Northwestern's Center for Healthcare Equity, said, "Despite their commitment, (providers') lack of resources allows them to go only so far." Pearce said, "Medical advances make leaps and bounds, but it doesn't always get translated to everybody".
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation