Heart Disease among African Americans

According to PubMed Heart Disease is referred to as a narrowing of blood vessels that supply the heart with critical nutrients such as oxygen. These arteries narrow because of the cholesterol that is produced and ingested by the individual. The fat molecules stick to each other and even the side of the blood vessel at random points. When the fats stick and form a plaque it continues to grow until it potentially blocks of a vessel, which would result in an heart attack. This is a health issue that affects many Americans overall because of the foods they are provided with a home are not extremely nutritious.

I choose to work with the heart disease a disparity because I am very much interested in Cardiology as I mention in my introduction post. Also I feel that by potentially creating some community based programs the prevalence of the disparity could be reduced. When looking at African-American culture we see that having some excess weight is considered a good thing to show that you can  afford to sustain yourself and also it is usually attractive to males of the same culture. This sort of mentality makes is more difficult to get African-Americans to go on diets, and/or exercise regularly. Foods that are normally found in an African-American household does not help to prevent heart disease either. The foods tend to be those that are high in fat, sugar, and salt (for example: cheese, shortening, etc). When foods have a high fat content it can cause a rise in cholesterol which will slowly narrow major arteries over time. Many neighborhoods on the social extremes are homogeneous therefore these poor lifestyle patterns are protected because many of those that the individual is surrounded by believe the opposite of clinicians thereby continuing the health issue.

Race, genetics, and health are definitely connected to each other in a very complicated fashion. These three things are affected by outside sources as well as affecting each other. For example depending on your race you may have either experienced or witnessed racism in a health care setting which may have put you off from receiving preventive care. Therefore it is common for you to experience a disease much further along. For example African-American men and prostate cancer, when these men are diagnosed with the affliction it is often in one of its later stages because they may not be comfortable having the routine check done. Genes can also impact the health because certain diseases are passed down through the family like sickle cell anemia. This means that environmental and other outside factors are not going to prevent someone from getting the illness.


Photo: http://www.indiana.edu/~k562/athero.html

Info: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004449/











4 thoughts on “Heart Disease among African Americans

  1. When I did this post I am not sure if I thought it all the way through exactly. When it came to the relationship between race, genetics, and health I think I focused only on the direct relationship between each of them, and I did not consider indirect relationships. I figured that considering you basically decide what race you identify as that it can’t have a direct affect on your health. Because if it did then according to what people found for this post if you identify as one race you are more likely to get breast cancer, but then you decide to identify as a different race now you are more likely to get heart disease. I don’t think that is how health works. You made the point about how racism could affect healthcare, which in the end would affect health. That was the kind of indirect relationship I did not see. Someone could make a decision about what someone else’s race is just by looking at them, and make decisions based on that, that would negatively affect their health care. So you make a good point. I would think racial categories in clinical studies would not be a good idea. You would want the studies to be more random and on a wide range of people because you would want the drug to work on as many people as possible, we do not want to end up in a situation where drugs for different races end up at different standards. I don’t know what a better way of talking about racialized health disparities would be.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. You make many good observations as to why the disparity you chose is so prevalent within the African American population. Saying that this group usually looks for a significant other that is a bit beefier, and then how this can lead to problems with keeping the weight off is an excellent explanation of how this is a problem for this race. Another thing I really liked about your post and did not consider it to be part of race, genetics, or health was the part about having a bad prior experience with a health official. This then made them self conscious about seeing a doctor, and when they do go it is too late or in a very late stage of a disease. One thing you could consider explaining is that race is not encoded within our genes. People thought for a while that it was, but after the Human Genome Project, this was found to be false. Certain genetics can be related to only a specific race, like sickle cell disease, but race is not encoded in our genetics. It is very important to think about racial categories when conducting a clinical study. Some things only happen within a certain race, and the answer to that question will most likely be within that race as well. Racialized health disparities should not be taken lightly just because they are not as common in other races. They still can happen in every other race, it just needs time to happen.

  3. I agree with the reasons in the reasons that African Americans have higher rates of heart disease. I did my post on obesity in African Americans and the distributions are the same; there are more overweight and obese women than men, and is a higher rate of heart disease among women than men. I talked about many of the same reasons for the disparity. The point you make about a person experiencing racism in a health care setting is something I didn’t really think about but makes sense. It’s just like any other situation where racism is involved. An example would be if someone were to go to a restaurant and feel as though the service they received is sub par because their race, they most likely wouldn’t eat there anymore. But I do think there are other ways at viewing disparities in health other than looking at a persons race alone. I think we need to look at environment, culture, and socioeconomic status when studying health as well. Racism more part of the environment a person lives in. But there are other factors, a person growing up in a low income neighborhood is going to have a different experience than one living in a higher income area. We could all probably look in our own families and see disparities among them.

  4. Good post; in addition to diet and exercise what type of economic constraints might contribute to this disparity? Continue to think about neighborhood structures and cost of access to certain types of foods relative to others. What other types of discrimination interact with health?

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