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Medically reviewed by Dr. Shani S. Saks, D.O. on August 2, 2023

Lower access rates to catheter ablation therapy were related to low socioeconomic background, female gender, and racial minorities, in this study.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is considered one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias worldwide, and its occurrence and prevalence are expected to increase in the coming years. Therapy for AF commonly entails medical treatment and intervention strategies, such as cardioversion and catheter ablation (CA). Emerging research indicates the existence of discrepancies in the management of AF, specifically in relation to gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors. 

Previous studies in the medical literature have indicated relatively reduced access to catheter ablation therapy in atrial fibrillation patients from low socioeconomic backgrounds, female gender, and racial minorities. This study, published in the journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, aimed to assess the socioeconomic, gender, and racial variations in access to catheter ablation therapy in atrial fibrillation patients.

Study Characteristics

A total of 2.2 million atrial fibrillation patients were included in this retrospective study. Of these participants, 46.3% were female, 7.7% were African American, 76.8% were Caucasian, and 15.5% of the participants were of other racial minorities. The insurance types included Medicare (54.9%), private insurance (41.4%), and Medicaid (3.6%). Of the total 62,760 patients who were subjected to catheter ablation therapy, 34.4%  were female and 65.6% were male. The rates of ablation were 3.3% in Caucasians, 1.5% in African Americans, and 1.2% in other minorities. Regarding insurance coverage, the ablation rates were 1.6% Medicaid, 2.8% Medicare, and 2.9% private insurance.

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Gender and Racial Disparities in Catheter Ablation Therapy

Women had significantly less likelihood of undergoing catheter ablation therapy compared to men (p < 0.0001). Compared to Caucasian atrial fibrillation patients, African American patients and patients from other racial backgrounds had significantly lower access to catheter ablation therapy (p < 0.0001).

Insurance Status Influences Catheter Ablation Rates

Atrial fibrillation patients with private and Medicare insurance had a significantly greater likelihood of undergoing catheter ablation compared to patients with Medicaid (p < 0.0001).

Disparities in Access to Catheter Ablation Therapy

Lower rates of access to catheter ablation therapy were related to low socioeconomic background, female gender, and racial minorities. The findings of this study are similar to the conclusions made by the previous studies in the literature. 

Source

Hamade, H., Jabri, A., Mishra, P., Butt, M., Sallam, S., & Karim, S. (2023). Gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences in access to catheter ablation therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcvm.2022.966383