Emory study shows black women are at greater risk for heart disease

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ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A recent study at Emory finds that young black women in their 20s and 30s have a high prevalence of obesity and blood pressure.

The report highlights the racial inequalities in health for minorities and the need for early prevention strategies, as seen by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected African Americans.

Atlanta Bureau Chief, Archith Seshadri, breaks down the new study.

Emory doctors say African American women are at greater risk for heart disease.

Dr. Gina Price Lundberg, Clinical Director of Emory Women’s Heart Center said, “Our African American women are getting unhealthy, and cardiovascular factors younger and dying 10 years before white women.”

The new study looked at 10-thousand African American women and found that older black women usually had higher blood pressure.

“We also found that all age groups had  body mass index of ‘obese’ which is above 30,” said Dr. Nishant Vatsa, Internal Medicine Resident at Emory University Hospital.

“Another thing is how young these women are  and having BMI in the obese zone and we would like to see health and nutrition in high school and college women,” said Dr. Lundberg.

The study found that all age groups had high cholesterol and sodium levels, especially for black women between the ages of 20 and 60.

“It’s terrible you have to drive 10 miles to find a grocery store with produce. Too often people are buying things that are pre processed in a box, bag or can, and full of sodium and while they make our lives easier, they are not making it healthier,” said Dr. Lundberg.

Dr. Vatsa said, “We found that certain risk factors like elevated blood pressure, and obesity are prevalent in young black women particularly related to diet and exercise and that preventive cardiovascular care needs to be implemented early in young black women.

“Healthcare has to be revamped to make it accessible, and education and reducing lifestyle stress, so you can have more time for shopping and cooking,” said Dr. Lundberg.

Doctors say better access to child care so that women can exercise and telehealth options would improve these statistics for African American women.

Doctors say cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for black women, and Georgia is one of the worst states for maternal mortality rates, which is propelled by hypertension.

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