Blacks Put Off
Care for Heart
By David Williamson
UNC-CH News Services
Blacks are more likely than whites to delay going to doctors or hospital
emergency rooms following heart attacks, a new study shows.
The delay significantly reduces the effectiveness of medical treatment
and could be life-threatening, says the senior author of a report on the
“Earlier, researchers had suggested that there might be differences
between racial groups in seeking treatment for chest pain, but other
studies have found no differences,” said Dr. Ross J. Simpson Jr., professor
of cardiology at the UnivCTsity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of
Medicine. "This work supports those who have said blacks delay longer.
It is new in that it is the first study that has looked at people from rural
Simpson and his ciurent and former medical students conducted the
investigation, which involved interviewing 199 of the 399 patients
admitted to UNC Hospitals with chest pain over almost eight months.
They presented their findings late last year at the 64th scientific
meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, Calif.
Eighty-three of the patients interviewed had suffered heart attacks,
including 17 blacks and 66 whites. The researchers asked detailed
questions about pain perception, whether cost of care and transportation
problems caused delays and how often patients saw their doctors.
Blacks delayed seeking medical treatment an average of 23 hours
while whites waited an average of eight hours, the team found. A quarter
of the blacks waited much longer than 24 hours because they did not realize
the pain came from th^ hearts. That subgroup was largely responsible for
the high average among blacks.
Only 7.5 percent of whites wailed more than a day.
As a group, blacks also were more likely to describe the pain as
“suffocating” and “sharp,” while whites were more likely to describe
“pressure,” “tightness,” “crushing” and “radiating” sensations.
“That is important because what the whites described is what is in the
medical texts,” Simpson said. “Doctors need to know that different groups
describe the chest pain differently and not always in classical terms.”
Why blacks lend to seek emergency treatment much later than whites
was not clear form the interviews, he said. The researchers’ hypothesis is
that less education and cultural differences are the main factors.
Prompt medical treatment often helps with heart attacks because new
clot-dissolving drugs work best if administered early, usually within six to
eight hours, Simpson said.
A heart attack is caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the arteries
feeding the heart and deprives it of oxygen. Early U'catment often restores
oxygen-carrying blood to the heart tissue, causing fewer heart muscle cells
to die. Late treaunent usually results in irreversible heart damage, making
a second attack much more likely.
“This was a small study, and so we can’t read too much into it,” the
physician said. “I think the main thing we found is that there are
differences in the way pain is perceived and described and that blacks wait
too tong to come into the hospital. Now we can target specific groups with
educational programs that show them that it is very dangerous to wait”
Dr. Roy Flood Jr., a UNC-CH medical student when the study was
conducted, presented the findings. Others involved in the project were
former UNC-CH medical students Shareen F. Kelly, Michael Turner and
Karin H. Greiser and UNC-CH School of Public Health biostatistician
UNC HOUSEKEEPERS, THE UNIVERSITY, AND YOU...
UNC Housekeepers make as little as $11,400 a year.
For wages that, often fall below poverty levels:
Housekeepers keep the University beautiful, comfortable, and
functioning for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors.
Housekeepers scrub, sweep, mop floors, buff floors, v.scuuin
carpets, clean carpets, dust, change lightbulbs, empty huge
trashbins, maneuver large palls of water, use dangerous chemicals
dally, keep watch for problems In their buildings, and inon.'.
Housekeepers work fulltime shifts, most beginning at 4 a.m.
and ending at noon. They get two fifteen minute breaks per
Housekeepers bear more than their share of the budget crisis.
They are required to perform extra work to make up for some 60 to
70 positions -- out of 479 positions -- left vacant by the
Housekeepers are subjected to unfair and arbitrary
supervison. In the last year. Housekeepers have lost Llieir jobs
for reasons as trivial as taking breaks outside when their
buildings were unbearably hot. Housekeepers are not permitted to
talk to one another on the job.
A climate of fear and intimidation has contributed to the
high number of vacant positions in the Housekeeping Department.
Many Housekeepers have quit their jobs in disgust; others have
Housekeepers are offered two types of training: safety
training and adult education leading to high school equivalency
accreditation. Because a significant majority of Housekeepers
are already high school graduates, this sort of job training is
unlikely to lead to better-paying jobs for Housekeepers.
Housekeepers who have worked for University for as many as ten
years or more still make wages below federal poverty levels.
Housekeepers often have to work two jobs to make ends meet.
Many are forced to live in Durham, Mebane, Efland, Hillsboro and
Pittsboro because they cannot afford the exorbitant prire of
housing in Chapel Hill.
The majority of Housekeepers are African American women. The
University perpetuates Its racist and sexist legacy in tl'.e way it
treats the UNC Housekeepers.
The housekeepers voiced their demands in a list of grievances circulated last semester
(see story page 6).
Fellows Program Teaches Leaders
By Lee Richardson
For most freshmen, finding a
job after graduation or taking a
leadership role is not their
Yet, there arc steps one can take
now to get ahead in this competitive
and ever-changing society. The
North Carolina Fellows Program ,
designed to develop leadership skills
and potential over four years, is
providing such an opportunity.
Selected N.C. Fellows complete
at least one full-time internship
focusing on a particular interest
area. Participants also take a three-
credit “ leadership seminar” during
their sophomore year. In addition,
there are monthly dinners offering
opportunities to interact with
Retreats are part of the program
as well, during the fellows’
freshman, junior and senior years.
In addition to the local retreats,
the N.C. Fellow; will enjoy an
exchange retreat and meet other
fellows at Davidson College and
N.C. Slate University. Fellows can
lake this opportunity to visit other
campuses, make new friends and
build business contacts. Fellows
can also gain practical exf)erience
through ihc Fellows Steering
Committee, Advisory Board and
the Leadership Workshops.
All freshmen are encouraged to
apply to the N.C. Fellows Program.
Twenty students will be selected.
For further information, attend
one of the open house sessions in
Student Union on Wed. Jan 29
from 4 to 6 p.m., or on Thurs. Jan
30 from 4 to 6 p.m. Applications are
due on Feb. 6., at 5 p.m.
Yvonne Yam contributed to this