Sex and Race Differences in the Evaluation and Treatment of Young Adults Presenting to the Emergency Department With Chest Pain

Darcy Banco, Jerway Chang, Nina Talmor, Priya Wadhera, Amrita Mukhopadhyay, Xinlin Lu, Siyuan Dong, Yukun Lu, Rebecca A. Betensky, Saul Blecker, Basmah Safdar, Harmony R. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Acute myocardial infarctions are increasingly common among young adults. We investigated sex and racial differences in the evaluation of chest pain (CP) among young adults presenting to the emergency department. METHODS AND RESULTS: Emergency department visits for adults aged 18 to 55 years presenting with CP were identified in the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey 2014 to 2018, which uses stratified sampling to produce national estimates. We evaluated associations between sex, race, and CP management before and after multivariable adjustment. We identified 4152 records representing 29 730 145 visits for CP among young adults. Women were less likely than men to be triaged as emergent (19.1% versus 23.3%, respectively, P<0.001), to undergo electrocardiography (74.2% versus 78.8%, respectively, P=0.024), or to be admitted to the hospital or observation unit (12.4% versus 17.9%, respectively, P<0.001), but ordering of cardiac biomarkers was similar. After multivariable adjustment, men were seen more quickly (hazard ratio [HR], 1.15 [95% CI, 1.05–1.26]) and were more likely to be admitted (adjusted odds ratio, 1.40 [95% CI, 1.08–1.81]; P=0.011). People of color waited longer for physician evaluation (HR, 0.82 [95% CI, 0.73–0.93]; P<0.001) than White adults after multivariable adjustment, but there were no racial differences in hospital admission, triage level, electrocardiography, or cardiac biomarker testing. Acute myocardial infarction was diagnosed in 1.4% of adults in the emergency department and 6.5% of admitted adults. CONCLUSIONS: Women and people of color with CP waited longer to be seen by physicians, independent of clinical features. Women were independently less likely to be admitted when presenting with CP. These differences could impact downstream treatment and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere024199
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 17 2022


  • chest pain
  • emergency department
  • myocardial infarction
  • race
  • sex
  • triage
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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