First Nations people are more likely to be admitted to hospital for a heart attack and at an earlier age than residents of areas with a low aboriginal population, a new report finds.

Thursday's report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information's report on hospital care for heart attacks in First Nations areas is the institute's first look at the topic.

Once hospitalized for a heart attack, aboriginal people are likely to fare as well as others, the report's authors said.

But residents of areas with high concentrations of First Nations are also more likely to have other complication conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.

"The results presented in this report highlight that disparities exist in rates of heart attacks and hospital experiences of heart attack patients from high-Aboriginal and low-Aboriginal," the report's authors concluded.

Despite higher needs, residents living in high First Nations areas were less likely to have angiograms to take pictures of their arteries or to receive ballooning to open up blocked arteries.

The researchers analyzed seven years of hospital records to compare residents of areas with a high concentration of First Nations people to locations with small aboriginal concentrations.

Heart attack patients from high First Nations areas had similar mortality rates within 30 days of hospital admission once factors like age, sex and other illnesses were taken in account.

Areas were defined as having high proportions of First Nations if a third or more of residents self-identified as First Nations.

Researchers turned to geographical comparisons to overcome inconsistencies in how hospitals record patients' ethnicity.  

They said socio-economic disadvantage plays an important role in health inequalities but they couldn't assess the impact because of small sample sizes. It's thought that longer term studies could provide more insight into the differences in complications and survival after cardiac treatment.

Residents of areas with a relatively high proportion of Inuit were less likely to be admitted for a heart attack than residents of remote low-Aboriginal areas. Despite distance barriers, procedure rates were similar.

Métis in Manitoba and Ontario also had higher risk for and higher rates of heart attacks than their non-Métis counterparts.