Contemporary socioeconomic-based disparities in cardiac surgery: Are we closing the disparities gap?

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Apr 22;S0022-5223(22)00398-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2022.02.061. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Female sex and lower income residence location are associated with worse health care outcomes. In this study we analyzed the national, contemporary status of socioeconomic disparities in cardiac surgery.

Methods: Adult patients within the Nationwide Readmissions Database who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR), mitral valve (MV) replacement, MV repair, or ascending aorta surgery from 2016 to 2018 were included. Sex and median household income quartile (MHIQ) were compared within each surgery group. Primary outcome was 30-day mortality. Multivariable analysis was adjusted for patient characteristics and hospital-level factors.

Results: A weighted total of 358,762 patients were included. Fewer women underwent CABG (22.3%), SAVR (32.2%), MV repair (37.5%), and ascending aorta surgery (29.7%). In adjusted analysis, female sex was independently associated with higher 30-day mortality rates after CABG (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.6), SAVR (aOR, 1.4), MV repair (aOR, 1.8), and ascending aorta surgery (aOR, 1.2; all P < .03). The lowest MHIQ was independently associated with higher 30-day mortality rates after CABG (aOR, 1.4), SAVR (aOR, 1.5), MV replacement (aOR, 1.3), and ascending aorta surgery (aOR, 1.8; all P < .004) compared with the highest quartile. Women were less likely to receive care at urban and academic hospitals for CABG compared with men. Patients of lower MHIQ received less care at urban and academic institutions for all surgeries.

Conclusions: Despite advances in the techniques and safety, women and patients of lower socioeconomic status continue to have worse outcomes after cardiac surgery. These persistent disparities warrant the need for root cause analysis.

Keywords: cardiac surgery; disparities; equity; socioeconomic.