Health Issue; Culture Diversity Society
HEART DISEASE IN AFRICAN AMERICAN
HLE 1150: HEALTH RESEARCH PROJECT PAPER
TANISHA M. SMITH
September 19, 2021
Heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in the United States, about 600,000 Americans die of heart disease annually. According to the center of disease control and prevention (CDC), this represents almost 25% of all United States deaths. The disease is also responsible for one in four deaths occurring in the United States. The disease is most prevalent among African Americans when compared to other ethnic groups. The reason for such disparities is attributed to many factors. Nearly, half of African American women (48%) are affected by some form of heart disease. When compared to African American males that have some form of heart disease are at 44%. According to Guy -Walls and long, (2017) social and economic factors such as education, high uninsured rates are key reasons why African Americans are at high rate for heart disease. This research paper will focus on the detailed information on heart disease, causes while specifically targeting the African American community. The risk factors, it’s prevalence among African American and the best practices for addressing the issue. In this paper, I present the thesis statement that African Americans are at higher risk for heart disease when compared to other ethnic groups due to poor economic, environmental and social factors associated with the group which exposes them to high-risk factors for heart disease. African Americans has the highest risk of developing heart disease.
Next, the major risk factors for heart disease include obesity, hypertension. Diabetes, and sleep disorders (Cunning Ham et al.,2017). There are also lifestyle factors, such as alcohol, tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity can easily put people at a higher risk of developing heart disease. The tendency of developing heart disease can also come from the history of the family. Therefore, family medical history plays a very significant role for identifying risk in individuals. When the history of a family is known, it can easily help in knowing the environmental factors and effects that can lead to heart disease in the family and the risk of premature heart attacks. Another thing that leads to increased risk of premature heart attacks is Genetic disorder. An example is a heart disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia that causes high levels of cholesterol especially beginning at birth. In the near future, in order to determine personal risk estimates for heart disease, genetic testing can be used but this approach has not been scientifically certified. About one out of 500 inherit this condition in the United States. The above risk factors are high among African American groups when compared to other ethnic groups. Some of the risk factors that have directly or indirectly led to a higher rate of heart disease among the African American Communities include higher poverty rates. This places cost barriers in front of their way that prevents them from accessing the necessary care services as compared to other ethnic groups. According to Guy – walls and long, (2017), African Americans also have the highest uninsured rates when compared to their white’s counterpart which may prevent them from accessing the necessary care services. The group is also associated with low level of education, lower level of exercise, poor diet among other environmental barriers. For instance, majority of the African Americans in the United States resides in lower-income neighborhoods which are likely to lack safe green spaces or facilities that encourage physical activity. This, in turn promotes sedentary lifestyle in such neighborhoods which increases the risk for heart disease. Such neighborhoods are also associated with a lack of or few food stores or supermarkets which translates to limited availability of healthy and fresh foods. Even when made available such foods are usually expensive hence pushing such groups to consume traditional foods that have higher levels of calorie, fat, and sodium content which increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension or obesity.
In addition, the evidence of the impact of heart disease and statistics can be seen with this supporting facts and details. According to the American Journal of public Health they did research to examine the impact of neighborhood conditions resulting from racial residential segregation on heart disease risk in a socio-economically diverse African American group. The study included 4,096 African American. They assessed neighborhood disadvantage with a composite measure of 8 indicators from the 2000 United States census. The results shows that statistically among African Americans there is a standard deviation increase in neighborhood disadvantage was associated with a 25% increased risk of heart disease. After the studies, they concluded that neighborhood economic and social conditions may contribute to increased risk of heart disease among African Americans. Policies directly addressing these issues may alleviate the burden of heart disease in African American communities. Heart disease remains the leading cause of mortality among African American communities in the United States. The research also examined the role neighborhood environments play in influencing heart disease risk factors and subsequent disease on set provides strong evidence linking socio economically and disadvantaged residential environments to greater disease risk. For instance, limited access to affordable and healthy foods such as diet and physical activity. There are other statistics that tell a compelling story. For instance, over the years the rate of death regarding heart disease has declined among other ethnic groups except for African Americans, whose rate is 20% higher when compared to the white counterparts the CDC (2019). Further estimates proves that African Americans aged 18-49 are twice likely to succumb to heart disease when compared to their white counterparts.
Furthermore, some of the best practices that has to be put in place to address heart disease in African American communities is to involve environmental approaches, community programs linked with clinical services, epidemiology, and surveillance (McGonagle et al,2020). Using structural and policy changes desired environments that promotes health and quality of life can be realized in African American Communities. Programs linked to clinical services are leveraged to bring educational programs in African American communities to raise awareness regarding heart disease. Surveillance programs are crucial for detecting, controlling, or preventing heart disease. Epidemiology and surveillance programs can be instrumental in data collection, tracking and monitoring trends regarding heart disease. Another practice to address this issue of heart disease in African American communities is encouraging individuals to go for screening. This is an important intervention that can be leveraged in lowering the risk for heart disease among African American communities. Through screening those at a higher risk for heart disease can be identified and given early guidance on how to proceed. Early identification of risk factors for the condition is crucial to managing such risk factors before further complications develop. Individuals above the age of 18 years should be encouraged to go for screening. Also through partnering with non-governmental institutions and faith organizations more screenings programs can be set up in African American communities.
Another practice is that individuals can also be encouraged to adhere to engage in physical activity. Current research suggests that adults ought to engage in at least minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. This will greatly reduce the risk of the disease. The majority of African communities who can’t engage in exercise due to busy work schedules or lack of enough funds to enroll in gym subscriptions. Such populations ought to be targeted and reminded of the importance of physical and how it reduces weight, high cholesterol and risk of diabetes or hypertension. Those who cannot afford to enroll in gyms should be encouraged to exercise from home or just walking 30 minutes a day equates 150 minutes of moderate intensity. Those that at risk can also be encouraged to eat a healthy diet encompassing vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products. Whole grains, legumes, fish and poultry. On the other hand, intake of food with high calories intake should be discouraged. Those undergoing treatment should be encourages to fully adhere to medication and recommended therapies. Adherence to therapies is a critical factor in determining whether or not a treatment is successful (cunning et al, 2017). Noncompliance with a treatment regime is a serious issue that impacts not just the patients but also the health care systems. Patients who do not adhere to their prescription’s regimes experience a considerable deterioration of their disease, increased mortality and higher healthcare costs. A variety of factors are likely to have an impact on adherence. Characteristics of the patient, the provider, and the health- care system as well as interactions between them, could all be regarded as potential adherence hurdles. It will be necessary to identify specific hurdles that each patient has and to execute suitable tactics to overcome those barriers in order to improve medication adherence among African Americans.
Moreover, one of the initiatives that was put together to create awareness on the dangers of heart disease in the African American communities is the Heart of Hypertension project. It is a community-based intervention prevention program designed to help young African Americans men become more aware of their health and learn how they could prevent or delay heart disease. The program focuses on the early onset of hypertension which is a major contributor to shortened life expectancy of African American men. Since lifestyle changes are known to reduce blood pressure; however, there are a lot of interventions tailored for young African American men have not been developed. What they did was to engage with a community partner, they developed and assessed a early onset of hypertension education and lifestyle intervention for young African American men. Also in their program a revised plan (health screening and 6 week intervention was tested on a focal group. So basically, the heart of hypertension project holds promise for early – onset hypertension among young African American men. They also incorporate feedback from participates into the approach and evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention on lifestyle change and blood pressure in young African American men with pre-hypertension.
Heart disease is most common among African Americans when compared to other ethnic groups. The reason for such disparities is attributed to many factors. African Americans are at a higher risk for heart disease when compared to other ethnic groups due to poor economic, environmental and social factors which is associated with the group. In addressing the issue of environmental approaches, community programs linked with clinical services, epidemiology and surveillance targeting the community ought to be intensified. This will ensure the group is more educated on the issue and a healthy lifestyle promoted to initiate change in behavior.
REFRENCES CDC. (2018, March 2). Guide: Best Practices for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Programs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/pubs/guides/best-practices/index.htm
CDC – Heart Disease Home – DHDSP. (2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm
Cunningham, T. J., Croft, J. B., Liu, Y., Lu, H., Eke, P. I., & Giles, W. H. (2017). Vital Signs: Racial Disparities in Age-Specific Mortality Among Blacks or African Americans — United States, 1999–2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 66(17), 444–456. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6617e1
Dubbin, L., McLemore, M., & Shim, J. K. (2016). Illness Narratives of African Americans Living with Coronary Heart Disease. Qualitative Health Research, 27(4), 497–508. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732316645319
Guy-Walls, P., & Long, J. G. (2017). African Americans and Heart Disease. Health & Social Work, 42(4), 247–249. https://doi.org/10.1093/hsw/hlx033
McGonagle, D., Plein, S., O’Donnell, J. S., Sharif, K., & Bridgewood, C. (2020). Increased cardiovascular mortality in African Americans with COVID-19. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 8(7), 649–651. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2213-2600(20)30244-7