Black patients are significantly less likely than white patients to receive the gold standard of stroke care, according to new research.

Almost 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

African Americans and other people of color have a substantially higher risk of experiencing a stroke than their white counterparts. And they’re also significantly more likely to die from those strokes.

“Racial disparities exist in all levels of stroke care,” says Delaney Metcalf, a third-year medical student in the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and lead author of the study in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.

“There are many studies that show quality of medical care in general can be poorer in minority populations. But as health care professionals, we are not doing a good enough job of getting these lifesaving treatments to these patients.”

The researchers analyzed data from more than 89,000 stroke patients across the US and found that Black patients were significantly less likely to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a clot-busting medication that helps restore blood flow to the brain after a stroke.

Additionally, Black patients were less likely than white patients to undergo endovascular thrombectomy (EVT), a minimally invasive procedure in which the blood clot is surgically removed.

When minority patients do get needed treatment, the researchers found non-white patients had substantially longer hospital stays, which may signify poorer health outcomes or lower quality of care.

tPA and EVT are the go-to medical treatments for ischemic strokes, which are caused by blood clots. They dramatically reduce death after a stroke and lead to significantly better health outcomes.

But both options are extremely time sensitive.

To be effective, tPA should be given within a few hours of a stroke. And patients requiring the EVT surgical procedure need to be on the table within about six hours. For rural patients or those living in underserved areas, that’s a tall ask.

Previous research has shown that Black and minority patients are less likely to call emergency services for an ambulance, which can delay medical care significantly.

Read the full article about racial disparities in patient health by Leigh Beeson at Futurity.