BlackDoctor.org: Combating Heart Disease in the Black Community
BlackDoctor.org recently interviewed Cedars-Sinai cardiologist Merije Chukumerije, MD, about the reasons the Black community faces a higher risk of developing heart disease and effective ways to address those risks.
Black Americans are more likely than others to develop high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity—the risk factors that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Chukumerije told BlackDoctor.org that socioeconomic status, access to care, and disparities in health equity are some of the reasons why these risk factors are more common in the Black community.
Chukumerije said there needs to be more focus on prevention and intervention to fight this public health issue.
"If a Black man or woman in their 20s or 30s appears to have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, then we should address these health risks from the start. … It’s more common for patients to see a cardiologist when they’re older, but by that time, the damage to the heart and cardiovascular system has been done," Chukumerije told BlackDoctor.org.
But physicians must be aware of the social and cultural factors affecting their Black patients. "As a healthcare provider, you have to understand what those in certain communities go through when they leave your medical office or clinic," Chukumerije told BlackDoctor.org.
Black communities in the U.S. sometimes lack outdoor parks, have limited access to gyms and can exist within "food deserts," with little healthy, affordable food. Chukumerije said doctors need to address a patient's situation before telling them to exercise more and change their diet.
To effect lasting change, patients also must be told they can do something to help themselves. Chukumerije said some patients tell him their health condition is hereditary as though it were a foregone conclusion or a situation they cannot change. "I tell my patients, ‘I don’t need you to go out and train for a marathon tomorrow, but I would love for you to take that first step today," Chukumerije told BlackDoctor.org.
Click here to read the complete article from BlackDoctor.org.