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Cardiovascular Disease in African American Women

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CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE IN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN

Richard Allen Williams, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Medicine,
UCLA School of Medicine
President/CEO,
Minority Health Institute,
Los Angeles, California

Introduction

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has long been considered a disorder which principally affects men in our society; consideration of the occurrence of heart attacks in females, for example, has been largely an afterthought. In the past few years, however, it has become increasingly obvious that this is not a problem limited to males, but that it occurs with great frequency in women. We now know that CVD is the cause of death more than any condition in women over the age of 50, including cancer (1) and in fact is responsible for more than a third of all deaths in women (2). It is estimated that 370,000 women in the United States die from heart disease each year. However, our knowledge base regarding CVD in African American (AA) women has not kept pace with the accumulation of data on white females. Thus, there is a deficit of information about this subgroup and the prevalence of CVD despite the fact that black women have more risk factors for CVD than do white women (3). The purpose of this paper is to review the subject of CVD in African American women and to focus upon four principal CVD categories: Coronary artery disease (CAD), hypertension, stroke, and congestive heart failure (CHF).The impact of gender and race on each of these entities will be examined in comparison to white women, and a determination will be made as to whether a different approach to the management of these disorders should be made based on ethnicity and sex.

Coronary Artery Disease

It has long been held that men have much more of a problem with CAD than women do; the belief has been that men are more susceptible to the disease, whereas…...

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