Why Women and African Americans Face a Greater Risk of Dying From Heart Disease - Adventist HealthCare

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Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on March 02, 2010

Adventist HealthCare Experts Speak About Why Women and African Americans Face a Greater Risk of Dying From Heart Disease - and What Can Be Done About It

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and heart patients participate in forum on Capitol Hill

Washington, DC - Two Adventist HealthCare experts participated today in an educational forum for the public highlighting the gender and racial disparities in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in an effort to educate and eliminate these disparities.

The program, "The Path to Health Care Equity: Identifying and Solving Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities in Health Care in the New Century," featured U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), heart patients and distinguished health-care experts from the region. Mark Turco, MD, interventional cardiologist and Director for the Center for Cardiac and Vascular Research at Washington Adventist Hospital, and Marcos Pesquera, RPh, MPH, Executive Director of the Center on Health Disparities at Adventist HealthCare, were featured at the event.

"This event has allowed us to engage in a constructive conversation about gender and racial disparities that currently exist in the treatment of heart disease," said Dr. Turco, event program director. "It is important to close the disparity gap in cardiovascular care and outcomes, so gender, race, and ethnicity cease to be relevant to survival and quality-of-life with heart disease."

The event was sponsored by The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) and the Association of Black Cardiologists, Mended Hearts, and Women Heart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

Cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S., affected an estimated 80 million people in 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and caused more than 35 percent of all U.S. deaths in 2005. Women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to die from a heart attack as men in their same age group.

"Despite the near split in prevalence of heart disease between men and women, women account for only 20 to 25 percent of patients enrolled in most cardiovascular clinical trials," said Dr. Turco. "Recruiting diverse patients to participate in clinical trials is a huge priority for the cardiovascular research community and in our research done at Washington Adventist Hospital and throughout Adventist HealthCare facilities."

African American women ages 55-64 are twice as likely as white women to have a heart attack and 35 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease. In 2006, nearly 47 percent of African American women, and nearly 45 percent of African American men had heart disease.

According to the Center on Health Disparities 2009 Progress Report, "Adventist HealthCare's Commitment to Promote Health Equity Through Culturally Competent Care," the health-care system has adopted an integrated approach to cardiac care education, linking cardiac screening events with educational programs to help patients improve lifestyle choices and address risk factors. To that end, Adventist HealthCare offers a range of interventions - from more intensive programs to quick classes on heart health - to maximize its reach.

"As we seek to shape true reform in our health care system, we must first address the disparities that exist among our citizens, specifically women and people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds," Pesquera said. "It is events like this that allow us not only to raise awareness but also to provide real solutions to our physicians, patients and policy makers on how we can best achieve this long-sought parity in care."

Adventist HealthCare is an integrated health care delivery organization based in Rockville, Maryland and includes Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital, Adventist Behavioral Health Services, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, Adventist Senior Living Services, Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, Adventist Home Health Services and the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children.

Adventist HealthCare's Center on Health Disparities was started in 2007 to provide quality care to everyone by bridging the health-care access gap in our communities. The Center is a recognized expert in addressing health-care disparities and building health-care equity. Among its partners are the Brook¬ings Institution, Johns Hopkins Priority Partners, US Department of Health & Human Services, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties Departments of Health and Human Services and Montgomery Cares Clinics.

Washington Adventist Hospital is a 288-bed acute-care facility located in Takoma Park, Maryland. Washington Adventist Hospital is Montgomery County's first cardiac center, performing more than 500 open-heart surgeries and more than 6,000 heart catheterizations each year. Washington Adventist Hospital is part of Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health-care delivery system based in Rockville, Maryland, that is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland.


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