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Why are Black Women Twice as Likely to Die from Heart Disease?

By EmpowHER
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Black women are at a higher risk for death from cardiovascular disease than white women, but the reasons for this disparity remain a mystery. One possible source of enlightenment in this area was the different medical care and clinical outcomes seen among the two groups of women.

Using the Heart and Estrogen / Progestin Replacement Study (HERS), researchers looked at almost 2,700 women and their risk of coronary heart disease for an average of 4.1 years. Black women were twice as likely to have a CHD event than white women. In addition, Black women also had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Still, Black women were less likely to receive basic treatments known to be effective in combating some of these conditions such as a daily dose of aspirin or prescribed statins.

"We found that Black women had nearly twice the rate of heart attack and death due to coronary heart disease. Despite this greater risk of coronary events, Black women were less likely to have adequate blood pressure and cholesterol management and less likely to receive preventive treatment," said Dr. Ashish K. Jha, lead author on the paper.

The lack of appropriate preventive therapy despite increased risk of CHD events reiterates the need for interventions for women of color in particular as well as a renewed focus on all medical providers on the early tell-tale signs of heart disease in women.

Resource Link:
Ashish K. Jha, Paul D. Varosy, Alka M. Kanaya, Donald B. Hunninghake, Mark A. Hlatky, David D. Waters, Curt D. Furberg, and Michael G. Shlipak. “Differences in Medical Care and Disease Outcomes Among Black and White Women With Heart Disease <http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/111/4/499> ” Circulation, Sep 2003; 108: 1089 - 1094

Related Links:
Tervalon M, Murray-Garcia J. Cultural humility versus cultural competence: a clinical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multi-cultural education. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1998 May; 9(2):117-25.

Weintraub, William S. and Viola Vaccarino. “Explaining Racial Disparities in Coronary Outcomes in Women <http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/111/4/499> ” Circulation 2003 108: 1041-1043.

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