Minorities, poor, uneducated bear the burden

NEW YORK, March 15 Disparities in health care are pervasive in America. These disparities adversely impact the cardiovascular health of Americans, especially African Americans, Hispanics, poor and uneducated people, according to a report in a special disparities themed issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Health disparities refer to differences in health indicators of population groups whether defined by race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or geography.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed national health surveys to assess the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and overall quality of life of U.S. adults age 18 and older and found a wide range of differences. They said the disparities data may help develop new public policies and programs to close the gaps.

"In general, the population subgroups most significantly and adversely affected were African Americans, Hispanics/Mexican Americans, people with low socioeconomic status, and residents of the southeastern United States and the Appalachians," said George Mensah M.D., acting director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC.

People with less than a high school education also tended to have more cardiovascular disease and related risk factors, regardless of race or ethnicity.

"These disparities appear to play a key role in the observed differences in the overall life expectancy and quality of life of the population subgroups," he said.

Health care disparities should matter to all Americans, Mensah said. "To paraphrase what Dr. Martin Luther King said about justice, 'poor quality health care anywhere, is a threat to quality care for all Americans everywhere.' As a heart specialist, I am aware of the power of prevention and the remarkable advances we've made in the treatment and care of heart disease and stroke. I am always saddened to admit that many ethnic mi

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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