• By Dana Sparks

Women’s Wellness: Diversity and heart health disparities

February 15, 2017

African-American woman sitting on edge of bed, eyes closed, resting and thinking

"African-American women have the highest burden of cardiovascular disease than any other racial group," says cardiologist Dr. LaPrincess Brewer. "This makes our efforts even more important in this population." Dr. Brewer says most African-American women are not aware heart disease is their No. 1 killer, and Mayo Clinic wants to increase awareness.

"The disparities that exist among African-American women is the No. 1 reason they die. And they are more likely to die than any other racial group." She says African-American women often have a unique set of risk factors, compared to other groups. These are called social determinants of health.

 "The reason why these exist are multi-factorial from the patient systems and environmental standpoint. A lot of them have to do with what we call social determinants of health and these can range from neighborhood, to income, environment, discrimination. There are health disparities from access to care and quality of care."
- Dr. LaPrincess Brewer

Dr. Brewer says improvements can happen by getting out into the community. "I think we need to shift from being negative about the impact of cardiovascular disease on this population and look more at promoting heart health."  The American Heart Association has a campaign called Life's Simple 7 and Dr. Brewer says, while the seven steps apply to everyone, they could be used in under served communities as a bridge to clinic care.

She's also leading the FAITH! (Fostering African-American Improvement in Total Health) initiative in the Rochester and Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota areas, promoting positive health in faith-based communities. It's an effort to inspire communities and a template she hopes other cities might implement.

Watch: Dr. Brewer discusses heart health disparities.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Brewer are in the downloads.

Read more about the FAITH program in Rochester and Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota:

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