Blacks 20 Times More likely to Develop Heart DiseaseMay 18th, 2009
One in 100 Black men and women develop heart disease before age 50, a rate 20 times higher than in Whites, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. That study, which followed more than 5,000 18- to 30-year-olds over a two-decade period, found that all but one of the 27 study participants who developed heart failure was black. “In the past, heart failure was thought to be a disease of older people,” said Dr. Kelly McCants, a heart failure and transplant specialist at Jewish Hospital. “But often, we see it in young Black males … and a lot of it is preventable.” While doctors aren’t sure why such startling disparities exist, they point to such likely culprits as elevated rates of high blood pressure – often triggered by poverty, which can lead to unhealthy diets and less access to quality health care. The study is one of the latest examining racial differences in heart failure, which affects 5 million Americans.