(CNN)Among older patients, Black men may have a higher chance of dying within 30 days following surgery than their peers, according to a new study.
The study, published Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ, suggests that this inequity could be driven by outcomes following elective surgery, for which death was 50% higher for Black men than for White men -- information that can be helpful for physicians as they plan procedures for patients.
Previously, separate research published in 2020 came to similar findings among children, showing that, within 30 days from their surgeries, Black children were more likely to die than White children.
"While a fair bit is known about such inequities, we find in our analyses that it's specifically Black men who are dying more, and they are dying more after elective surgeries, not urgent and emergent surgeries," study lead Dr. Dan Ly, assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a news release.
"Our findings point to possibilities such as poorer pre-optimization of co-morbidities prior to surgery, delays of care due to structural racism and physician bias, and worse stress and its associated physical burden on Black men in the United States," Ly said in the news release.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles analyzed Medicare data on more than 1.8 million beneficiaries, ages 65 to 99, who underwent one of eight common surgical procedures. The data came from 2016 to 2018, and the researchers examined how many patients died during their hospital stay or within 30 days after surgery.
The researchers found that dying after surgery overall was higher in Black men compared with White men, White women, and Black women. Dying after surgery was 50% higher for Black men than for White men after elective surgeries, the data suggest, but for non-elective surgeries, there was no difference between Black and White men, although mortality was lower for women of both races.
Among the Black men in the study, about 3% of them died following surgery overall compared with 2.7% of White men, 2.4% of White women and 2.2% of Black women. These differences were relatively larger for elective surgeries, and appeared within a week after surgery and persisted for up to 60 days after surgery, the researchers found. In a separate analysis, the researchers found that Hispanic men and Hispanic women showed a lower overall mortality than Black men.
"Our study has shed light on the fact that Black men experience a higher death rate after elective surgery than other subgroups of race and sex. Further research is needed to understand better the factors contributing to this observation, and to inform efforts to develop interventions that