Older Adult Heart Self Check
January 20, 2023

Heart Health Equity

By Colleen Scott, NYSOFA Advocacy Specialist

February is Black History Month, which was first officially recognized by President Ford in 1976; it is also National Heart Month and National Self Check Month to raise awareness of self-checks you can perform at home to monitor your own health.

These three February recognition events all intersect in important ways when you consider the health disparities that exist across the spectrum for African Americans, including heart disease and breast cancer. NYSOFA has been working to provide the aging services network with resources to address health disparities like these, including our partnership with Dr. Melicent Miller, a health equity specialist, on a series of learning modules and trainings. The four-part Health Disparities in Aging series, available here, is supported by a Building Resilient and Inclusive Communities (BRIC) grant.

Did you know?

  • According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), non-Hispanic blacks are nearly 1.3 times as likely to have obesity compared to non-Hispanic whites. Obesity is connected to heart disease.
  • Breast Cancer deaths are declining fastest among white women compared to women of other races and ethnicities, reports the American Cancer Society (ACS). Black women have the highest death rates of all racial and ethnic groups and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. This difference in outcomes results from many factors, including having more aggressive cancers and fewer social and economic resources. To improve this disparity, black women need timelier follow-up and improved access to high-quality treatment, say ACS researchers.
  • In addition, HHS reports that nearly half of all African Americans adults have some form of cardiovascular disease and approximately 2 out of every 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, which is often not under control.
  • African Americans ages 18-49 are two times as likely to die from heart disease than whites, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • African Americans ages 35-64 years are 50% more likely to have high blood pressure than whites, the CDC reports.