The Roundtable has released its Summary Recommendations on Addressing Disparities in Contemporary Care of the Minority Patient with Valvular Heart Disease.
Valvular heart disease (VHD) is a degenerative condition characterized by improper heart valve functioning, either due to stenosis (narrowing of the heart valve) or regurgitation (leaky heart valve). For several years, the standard of care for the treatment of VHD has been open heart surgery, but more recently minimally invasive transcatheter procedures, such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) or transcatheter mitral valve repair, are now commonly used for appropriate patients. Despite the fact that new and emerging technologies are now widely available in most major hospitals, there still exists a major gap regarding access by minority patients to these life-saving procedures. Minority and underserved patients receive far fewer treatments for VHD, despite comparable surgical and transcatheter outcomes [1, 2]. Valvular heart conditions, poor socioeconomic status, bias within the healthcare system, lack of awareness about the benefits of treatment and quick recovery time, and mistrust of medical providers are all barriers that can contribute to treatment disparities among minorities and underserved patients [3, 4]. Although these barriers often link to disparities across multiple chronic disease states, the Association of Black Cardiologists convened an interdisciplinary roundtable specifically focused on VHD due to the disease’s grave prognosis when these lifesaving procedures are not given. [4, 5]. This group came together to address the urgency of developing solutions for eradicating preventable differences in VHD outcomes. While many barriers were identified, roundtable participants elected to prioritize barriers with immediately actionable solutions.