Higher Rates of Stroke for Blacks 45-54 Years Old — Know and Reduce Your Risks

Over the past 50 years, death rates from strokes have gone down almost 70%.  However, a recent study indicates that long-time racial disparities in stroke rates and deaths still persist.

Attractive Happy African American Couple

Researchers at the University of Alabama reviewed data for 30,000 black and white study participants and discovered that Black participants 45-54 years old suffered more deadly strokes than white participants the same age.  A higher percentage of Black study participants also had more existing stroke risk factors than white participants like diabetes (31% vs 16%) and high blood pressure (71% vs 51%).

Researchers also found that once a participant suffered a stroke — Black and white stroke victims died at the same rates.  This finding indicates that the disparity in stroke deaths for people 45-54 year old arises from a higher incidence of stroke and not lower rates of stroke survival.  This difference in stroke rates disappears for older participants — with Black and white participants over 75 years suffering strokes at similar rates.Concerned Woman With Spouse

In order to reduce the increased stroke rates among Black people in this age range it is important to know and reduce your risk factors for stroke.  You can read about ways to reduce your stroke risks here.



–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2016 by Living Well Black, Inc.®


[1] Racial Disparities in Stroke Incidence and Death, NIH Research Matters, National Institutes of Health, June 21, 2016. (viewed June 24, 2016)

[2]  Where to Focus Efforts to Reduce the Black-White Disparity in Stroke Mortality: Incidence Versus Case Fatality? Howard G, Moy CS, Howard VJ, McClure LA, Kleindorfer DO, Kissela BM, Judd SE, Unverzagt FW, Soliman EZ, Safford MM, Cushman M, Flaherty ML, Wadley VG; REGARDS Investigators. Stroke. 2016 Jun 2. pii: STROKEAHA.115.012631. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 27256672.  Funding: NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

When It’s Hot – “Look Before You Lock”

Portrait of an African American woman sitting in car with small

Today is “National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention Day,” a day to focus on preventing childhood deaths in hot cars and other vehicles.  A child dies about once every nine days due to this danger.  In 2016 alone ten children already have died from heatstroke inside vehicles.

Historically, traffic-related death rates are highest for black children[1] but this vehicle-related danger impacts our children too.  No one is immune and this can happen to the most loving, attentive, and responsible parents.  Dr. Norman Collins, Sr., a minister, was the proud grandfather of three-month old Norman Lee Van Collins III, nicknamed “Bishop” in honor of Norman Sr.  BishopTragedy struck the Collins family one day in May of 2011.  On that Sunday, Bishop’s father, Norman Collins, Jr., prepared for church services by removing music equipment from his car and taking it into the church.  Norman Jr. asked another church member to bring Bishop in from the car and take him to the nursery.  Apparently the church member did not hear this request.  At the end of services two and a half hours later, after the infant could not be located in the church nursery, his parents and other church members found him still buckled in his carseat in 90+ degree weather.  Little Bishop was unresponsive and could not be saved.  Norman Sr. received the tragic news from a church friend.  He says about that day, “The news of Bishop’s passing pierced and pained my heart as I had never experienced before or since – forever changing the trajectory of my life’s journey.”

Technology already exists to help prevent parents from leaving children alone in vehicles and enduring this recurring nightmare.  In order to better prevent these tragedies Living Well Black joins parents of victims and the organization KidsAndCars in calling on Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Dr. Mark Rosenkind, Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to act to find solutions to this preventable danger.

As a parent or caregiver, here is what you can do to prevent these horrible deaths:[2]

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars.
  • “Look Before You Lock” – Make a habit of always opening the back door and checking the back seat before leaving our vehicle to ensure that no child is left behind;
  • Be very careful around holidays, during a change in schedule, or whenever a different parent or caregiver takes the child to childcare — many tragedies occur in confusion happening during times like these.
  • Put something you will need in the back seat, like a cellphone, handbag, or briefcase.
  • Put a large stuffed animal in the back seat.  When you place your child in the back, move the stuffed animal to the front seat — within your sight.
  • Set up a policy with daycare about drop off.  Ensure that daycare providers know that you will call to let them know if our child will be absent on any day.  Ask your childcare provider to contact you if your child does not arrive as expected.
  • Keep all vehicles locked and car keys and garage remotes where your child cannot get to them.
  • If your child is missing immediately check the car first — including inside the car and all compartments like trunks.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle call 911 immediately.  If the child seems ill or hot remove them from the vehicle as soon as possible.
  • Where possible, pay for gas at the pump and use drive-through services for restaurants, pharmacies, etc.

Let’s all work together to end these senseless and heartbreaking injuries and deaths.

–Janell Mayo Duncan



COPYRIGHT©2016 by Living Well Black, Inc.



Back-to-School Safety Tips

By now, most schools across the nation are back in session.  There are children putting on backpacks and walking, biking, and taking the bus to and from school.  The National Safety Council and Nationwide Children’s Center for Injury Research and Policy have advice for children, parents, and drivers to prevent injuries.


In order to prevent poor posture and back and shoulder pain, if your child carries a backpack, try to limit the weight of the backpack to no more than 10% of the child’s body weight.[1]


If you cannot walk with your child, encourage him or her to walk with other students, and to use streets with sidewalks, traffic lights, and crossing guards.[2]  If your child carries a cell phone tell them “heads up, phone down” to remind them to pay attention to their surroundings.[1]


For children riding bicycles, make sure your child is wearing a helmet that fist correctly.  You can see how to fit a helmet properly here:  “NHTSA Fitting a Bicycle Helmet.”[2]  Teach your child to follow the same rules as people driving cars, to ride single-file in the direction of traffic, and to watch for opening car doors and other hazards.  In order to be visible, make sure their bicycle has reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes.  Also recommended are a headlight, rear-view mirror, and a horn or bell.  Kids on bikes should wear bright clothing during the day, and reflective clothing in the evening.[3]

Bus Riders

For children who ride the school or city bus, have them get to the bus stop early to avoid running.[2]  Teach children to wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before walking up to the bus.  If the child has to cross the street, have them walk at least 10 feet ahead of the bus until he or she can see the driver.[4]


Put your phone down.  No text or phone call is more important than safety.  When stopped at a red light or waiting to turn, don’t block the crosswalk because it forces pedestrians to walk around you — possibly causing them to walk in traffic.  Be extra careful in school zones, near playgrounds, and in residential areas, and watch out for vehicles stopped for pedestrians.[5]

The National Safety Council’s tips can be seen here, and you can read all of Nationwide Children’s Center for Injury Policy’s tips here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

[1] “Back to School Safety,” National Safety Council (viewed 9/14/2015)

[2] “Back to School Safety” Nationwide Children’s Center for Injury Policy (viewed 9/14/2015)

[3] “Live to Ride Another Day”  National Safety Council (viewed 9/14/2015)

[4] “School Buses are Students’ Safest Mode of Transportation” National Safety Council (viewed 9/14/2015)

[5] “Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road”  National Safety Council (viewed 9/14/2015)

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

This is Minority Organ Donor Awareness Week — More Black Donors Are Needed

The first week of August is Minority Organ Donor Awareness Week.  It was established to draw attention to the need for organ, eye, and tissue donors — particularly in minority communities. As of May 2015, people of color make up nearly 58% of organ donation wait lists — and more than half are African Americans.  Black people have higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and sarcoidosis than any other race, and these conditions dramatically increase the chances of organ failure.[1] Statistically, African Americans are 13% of the population but comprise 34.1% of the kidney wait lists, 24.4% of the heart wait list, and 11.6% of lung wait list.[2]

Historically, African Americans are not likely to be organ donors.  In a survey conducted by physicians Minniefield, Yang, and Muti in order to understand attitudes that might influence organ donation by African Americans, investigators found that thirty-eight percent of African Americans said they would not donate organs due to a fear of receiving less medical intervention.  The reason given was “if I am an organ donor I won’t get the necessary medical attention.”[3]  These fears may be based, in part, on historical incidents of abuse that African American patients have suffered at the hands of medical professionals.  Due to tragedies like the Tuskegee Study that allowed black african female sick patient in doctor's office
men with syphilis to go untreated for years, it is no mystery why many blacks are suspicious of the intent of physicians and medical research.[3]

While medical mistrust may be well founded, it negatively affects the health of African Americans.  In a study entitled “Understanding African Americans’ Views of the Trustworthiness of Physicians,” researchers discovered that “distrust of the motives of the medical profession [result] in withdrawal of life-sustaining technology, pursuit of organ donation, research, and health care over all.”[4]  Furthermore, much of the suspicion surrounding organ donation is based on myths.  Many black people avoid becoming organ donors out of fear that they will not receive adequate medical treatment while they are alive; however, if a person is sick or injured it is the physician’s first responsibility to save his or her life.  Organ, tissue, and eye donation can only be considered after someone has died.[1]

African American doctor checking patient using stethoscope
In order to meet increasing organ donation needs, it is important that African Americans and all people of color register as organ donors.  Although organs are not selected based on race, ethnicity does play a role in the matching process.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “compatible blood types and tissue markers—critical qualities for donor recipient matching—are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity.”[1]  As a result,  greater diversity in donors will increase the likelihood that if needed, a successful transplant match can be located to save the live of you or your loved one.

For more information on becoming an organ donor visit www.organdonor.gov.

–Jasmine Snead.  Jasmine is working towards a degree in Government and Politics with a certificate in African American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.  She is interested in civil rights and justice, feminism, criminal justice reform and immigration politics.


[1] “Why Minorities are Needed” Health Resources and Services Administration (viewed 8/5/2015).

[2] “Waiting List Candidates by Ethnicity” Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, Health Resources and Services Administration, May 6, 2015 (viewed 8/5/2015).

[3] Minniefield, W. J., J. Yang, and P. Muti. “Differences in Attitudes toward Organ Donation among African Americans and Whites in the United States,” Journal of the National Medical Association, 93.10 (2001): 372–379.

[4] Jacobs, Elizabeth A. et al. “Understanding African Americans’ Views of the Trustworthiness of Physicians,” Journal of General Internal Medicine 21.6 (2006): 642–647. PMC.  (viewed 8/5/2015).

Additional Sources:

[5] Wall, L L. “The Medical Ethics of Dr J Marion Sims: A Fresh Look at the Historical Record.” Journal of Medical Ethics 32.6 (2006): 346–350 (viewed 8/5/2015).

[6] Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown, 2010.

[7] U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Sept. 2013. (viewed 8/6/2015).

[8] “Learn The Facts,” Health Resources and Services Administration (viewed 8/5/2015).
COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

We Call for Action on Climate Change — Will You Join Us?

When asked about climate change, unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of the local aspects of this global issue. More concerning, however, is that many African Americans are unaware that we are more susceptible to climate change related health issues.  For example, climate change is expected to create serious public health issues due to increased numbers of asthma attacks, heat strokes, heart attacks, and more.

President Obama’s “Climate Change Action Plan,” is designed to address the threat of Climate Change.  Among other initiatives, as part of the Climate Change Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed rules designed to: (a) limit thePower Plant amount of carbon emissions from power plants 30% by 2030;[1] and (b) reduce the amount of ground-level ozone (O3), also known as “smog.”[2]  High levels of air pollution are associated with making asthma symptoms worse.[3]  African Americans suffer disproportionately from asthma and other diseases and conditions worsened by carbon pollution.  The rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to Black African American Nurse With Child Isolatedasthma are both 3 times higher among African Americans than among whites.[4]  Black children visited the emergency department for asthma at a rate 260% higher that white children, had a 250% higher hospitalization rate, and had a 500% higher death rate from asthma, than white children.[5]

Although we do not know the release date of the final EPA rules we expect them to be issued soon.  Today, July 30th, is the public’s chance to show their support for strong government action on climate change.  This “Day of Action” is your chance to voice your opinion on social media (#ActOnClimate) about why climate change action is important to you and why it needs to happen today.  Please let your voice be heard….

–Tsahai Crawlle is working towards her degree in Communication from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Originally from Jamaica, and an avid writer, she is interested in social issues, women’s rights and black feminism.


[1] “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,” 79 Fed. Reg. 34829, (June 18, 2014).

[2]  “National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone,” 79 Fed. Reg. 72234, 75236 (December 17, 2014).

[3] “Children’s Environmental Health Disparities: Black and African American Children and Asthma,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (viewed 7/30/2015).

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma prevalence, health care use and mortality: United States, 2003-05 and Heron MP, Hoyert DL, Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: Final Data for 2006. National vital statistics reports; vol 57 no 14. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.

[5] “Asthma and African-Americans,” http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=3&lvlID=532&ID=6170 (viewed 7/30/2015).

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

July is Minority Mental Health Month – What are the Signs of Postpartum Depression?

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.[1]  To mark the occasion, we are taking a look at postpartum depression.

Having children can be an exciting time of your life.  While becoming a parent is a blessing, the intense effects on mothers-to-be and new mothers can be stressful – and some moms will develop postpartum depression (also called “postnatal depression”).  In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, nearly one out of every five new moms will battle postpartum depression during her pregnancy and/or the first year following childbirth.  In spite of its prevalence, no definitive cause of postpartum depression is known, although hormonal shifts and physical changes may be strong contributors.  If you or someone you care about is pregnant or recently gave birth, make sure to learn the facts and know the signs.

Many statistics indicate that women in a lower socioeconomic status experience higher rates of postnatal depression.  However, according to data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, self-reported postpartum depression also is higher among women of racial/ethnic minority groups.[2]  Scholars at Florida International University (FIU) found that, due to the higher incidence of preterm births, minority mothers and newborns are at higher risks for the effects of postnatal depression, and Black women experience preterm birth at higher rates (17.1%), than White (10.8%), or Hispanic mothers (11.8%).[3]  Not only did the mothers in the FIU study report higher levels of symptoms related to depression, but their newborns also displayed increased levels of distress, fear, and sadness.  Nicole E. Barroso, lead author of the FIU study explained that, “Caring for a preterm infant is particularly challenging as premature babies have more medical and temperamental problems.”

Likely due to this increased risk of preterm births and associated postpartum depression, researchers urge early screening and treatment.  Although the intensity and presence of signs may vary, some telltale signs of postnatal depression include:

  • Constant anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea

If you experience these symptoms or think you may be suffering from pregnancy-related depression, discuss it with your doctor.  Fathers, partners, and loved ones who wish to help pregnant or new mothers cope with postpartum depression, remember the “H.E.R.S.” approach and try the following:

  • Help her find outlets for support and treatment and help with housework, and childcare.
  • Encourage her to take time for herself and talk about her feelings
  • Reassure her that she is not alone, she will get better, and that it’s not her fault
  • Soothe, sympathize and supply her with affection and comfort -– a hug, note, or token of appreciation goes a long way[4]

For more information on what you can do click here: Postpartum Support International.  

–Chelsea Burwell is a working towards her Masters in Communication, Culture, and Technology at Georgetown University.  Her interests include black culture, feminism, identity politics, media representation, natural black hair care, music, art and fashion.

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.


[1] “Minority Mental Health Month – July” (viewed 7/13/15)

[2] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Prevalence of Self-Reported Postpartum Depressive Symptoms — 17 States, 2004–2005” (viewed 7/13/15)

[3] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Preterm Births – United States, 2006 and 2010  (viewed 7/13/15)

[4] “Tips for Postpartum Dads and Partners” (viewed 7/13/15)

Additional Sources:

“Postpartum depression screenings critical for minority mothers,” FIU News (viewed 7/13/15)

“Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Postpartum Depression Care Among Low-Income Women,” Kozhimnnil, Katy Backes, et. al, Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Jun; 62(6): 619–625. (viewed 7/13/15)

“Postpartum Depression,” U.S. Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus (viewed 7/13/15)

Bicycle Helmet Safety

A bicycle helmet protects best when you wear it correctly.  At a recent cycling event in New York, Consumer Reports Magazine observed 570 adults and 55 children.  Most of the adults (84%) and nearly all of the children were wearing helmets.  However, about 10% of the adults’ helmets were on lopsided (worn too far back on their heads) and over one-third of the children had loose chin straps or their helmets were crooked.

When wearing a helmet make sure that:  Bicycle Helmet In Font View

  • it fits snugly
  • it sits straight (level) on the head with the front edge about an inch above your eyebrows
  • it is not gouged, cracked, or damaged
  • it has not been involved in an accident (even if it looks fine)

happy young boy riding a bike outdoorsWhat’s wrong with this picture? The boy’s helmet sits too far back on his head…..

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

Source:  “What’s your bike helmet habit?Consumer Reports, May 9, 2015 (Viewed 5/26/2015)