At Premier Independent Physicians, ensuring that we cater our health solutions to our patients is of utmost priority. To do so, it is important to consider all the factors of a person, such as age, gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity. Although there are many health resources available, there are not many that highlight and cater to the health of African Americans. In an attempt to raise awareness and encourage conversations between African American individuals and their providers, we have identified 6 health-related issues that commonly affect African Americans as well as treatment resources.
1) Mental Health
Although mental health is being talked about more than ever, it still has a stigma surrounding it. A 2008 study found that “over a third [of Black participants] felt that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles.” This is alarming because adult African Americans are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress in comparison to white adults. This can be related, but not limited to, negative stereotypes, attitudes of rejection, and the fact that African Americans are more likely to be victims of violent crimes. This can often result in post-traumatic stress (PTSD).
Although Diabetes is preventable, many do not recognize early signs or seek treatment due to fear of complications. It is reported that approximately “2.7 million or 11.4% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes — but at least one-third of them don’t know it.” Several risk factors to be aware of include obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and cigarette smoking.
Treatment: Treatment will depend on the type of diabetes that is diagnosed. Specific information and resources are available at the American Diabetes Association’s website.
3) Uterine Fibroids
Uterine Fibroids are “noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years” that often do not result in noticeable symptoms. While it is common for women to have fibroids sometime during their lifetime, Black women are three times more likely than women of other races to get uterine fibroids. Another important detail to note is that fibroids are largely genetic, and there is no known way to prevent them. If your family has a history of fibroids, notify your medical provider in order to identify and treat them early on.
Treatment: Uterine fibroids are commonly found during routine pelvic exams, so it is important to schedule routine exams. Although there is not a single approach to treatment, a few options to look into are GnRH agonists medications, a Progestin-releasing intrauterine device, and Abdominal myomectomy if multiple, large fibroids have developed.
4) Heart Disease
According to the CDC, African Americans of ages 18-49 are 2 times as likely to die from heart disease than those of Anglo European ancestry. Heart disease conditions include heart rhythm problems, coronary artery disease, and congenital heart defects. Symptoms will vary by disease but if you feel chest pain, fluttering in your chest, or have cold, pale, and clammy skin, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Treatment: The treatment for heart diseases range from lifestyle changes to antibiotics, and in some cases, surgery. Generally, it is heavily encouraged that you have a low-fat and low-sodium diet, limit your alcohol intake and exercise at least 30 minutes per day to reduce the probability of developing a heart condition.
5) High Blood Pressure
African Americans are more susceptible to suffering from high blood pressure. In comparison to white individuals, African Americans ages 35-64 years are 50% more likely to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is unique in the sense that it often does not have symptoms.
Treatment: Regularly visiting your doctor to monitor your blood pressure is heavily advised. Eating a healthy, low-sodium diet, regularly exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight are lifestyle changes that should be implemented to regulate blood pressure. Your provider may also prescribe Diuretics, medications that “act on your kidneys to help your body eliminate sodium and water, reducing blood volume.”
4) Breast Cancer
Although Black women have a 1 in 9 chance of developing breast cancer (the odds for white women are 1 in 8), according to the American Cancer Society, they are more likely to die from the disease. The probability of dying from breast cancer is 1 in 31 for Black women while 1 in 37 for white women. This may be linked to the fact that breast cancer was “more likely to be found at an earlier stage among white women than among black women.”
Treatment: According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, there are 5 treatment options for breast cancer: surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. It is common for most treatment plans to include a combination of the 5. If women in your family have a history of developing breast cancer, notify your medical provider in order to closely monitor this.
In conclusion, if you feel that you may be at risk for any of the afore-mentioned medical conditions, please speak with your healthcare provider about preventative medicine and other options for avoiding future complications. We also encourage you to share this information with your loved ones in an effort to raise awareness of these risks! Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to learn more information about health and wellness.