A new study shows that white men and boys are living longer with muscular dystrophy due to technological advances in recent years, but that the lives of African-American men and boys with muscular dystrophy have not been extended at the same rate.
“More research is needed to determine the causes of this difference between whites and African-Americans with muscular dystrophy so it can be addressed,” study author Aileen Kenneson, PhD, who conducted the study while with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated in a press release. “Possible contributing factors could be differences in the types of muscular dystrophy, environmental or genetic factors, other health conditions such as high blood pressure, individual social and economic factors or access to and use of treatment options.”
The study also found that white women with muscular dystrophy live an average of 12 years longer than African-American women with the disease.
For the study, researchers analyzed death records from 18,315 people whose death was associated with muscular dystrophy in the United States from 1986 through 2005. This period of time was when use of supportive medications and many advances in respiratory and heart care were developed and applied to those with muscular dystrophy.
The average age at death increased by 1.09 years annually for white men, compared to 0.25 for African-American men. Among men who had no weakening of the heart associated with muscular dystrophy, called cardiomyopathy, the average age at death increased by 1.3 years annually for white men, compared to 0.3 years annually for African-American men.