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.®

Sources:

[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).

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.

Sources:

[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.

Sources:

[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.

Sources:

[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)

Is This Food Safe to Eat??

Summer is coming — and with it heat and possibly storms and power outages — so it’s a good time to think about food safety.  Below are some recommendations for keeping food safe in your refrigerator and freezer.

Refrigerator Dos:

  • Make sure your refrigerator is set to 40 °F or below
  • Go through your fridge once a week and throw out perishable foods
  • For raw meats like poultry, ground meats, and seafood refrigerate only 1-2 days
  • For raw steaks, roasts, and chops (pork, veal, lamb and beef) refrigerate only 3 to 5 days
  • For cooked meats, like seafood and poultry, refrigerate only 3-4 days
  • Store milk and egg cartons on the shelf inside the fridge, and not in the door where temperatures can vary

Refrigerator Don’ts:

  • Do not store perishable food in the refrigerator door because the temperature may vary too much
  • Do not eat foods that have been at temperatures above 40 °F for more than 2 hours (such as after a power outage)

Freezer Dos:

  • Make sure your freezer remains at 0 °F
  • Freeze foods as soon as possible to maintain quality
  • Thaw foods only in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in cold water
  • Re-freeze uncooked food thawed in the refrigerator
  • Cook food immediately that has been thawed in the microwave
  • For raw ground meats and seafood freeze only 3-4 months
  • For fresh poultry like a whole chicken or turkey freeze up to 1 year and for pieces freeze up to 9 months
  • Use your refrigerator’s freezer section for short-term storage
  • If possible, use a free-standing freezer for longer storage times
  • Freeze meat and poultry in its original packaging but — for longer storage times — place additional wrapping over the package
  • After a power outage keep the refrigerator door closed to allow food to stay cold (up to 2 days for a full freezer and 1 day for a half-full freezer)

Freezer Don’ts:

  • Do not freeze canned food or eggs in shells
  • Avoid freezing mayonnaise, cream sauce, or lettuce
  • Do not thaw foods on the kitchen counter or outdoors
  • Do not eat foods in the freezer after a power outage or if the door is left open there are no ice crystals left

For a printable refrigerator and freezer food safety chart from Foodsafety.gov click here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

Sources:

Refrigeration and Food Safety,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

Van, Diane, “Meat in the Refrigerator: How Long Does it Last,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer,” United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (viewed 5/12/2015)

mackerel fish on a white background

Check Your Shelves — Kraft Foods Recalls Mac & Cheese Boxed Dinners

Kraft Foods Group has voluntarily recalled select code dates and manufacturing codes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese boxed dinners due to the possible presence of metal pieces.

The recalled products are limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the original flavor of boxed dinner with the ““Best When Used By”” dates of September 18, 2015 through October 11, 2015, with the code “C2” directly below the date on each individual box (as shown in graphic to left).

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese 3, 4, and 5 box multi-packs of the 7.25-oz. sized original flavor have been recalled too.  You can see these listed here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

Stronger EPA Ozone Standards are Good for Our Health

Outdoor Portrait Of A Teenage Black Girl Jumping Over A Blue SkyIn December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule designed to reduce the amount of ground-level ozone (O3), also known as “smog.”[1] The proposed rule would reduce the concentration of ozone pollution in the air from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 65-70 ppb.  The agency also has asked for comments from the public on lowering levels to 60 ppb.[2]

High levels of air pollution (fine particles, ozone, acidic aerosols, and nitrogen oxides) are associated with making asthma symptoms worse.[3]  The short-term health impacts of Oinclude “decreased lung function, increased respiratory symptoms and pulmonary inflammation.”  Longterm exposures can cause respiratory symptoms, diseases, and death. Decreasing Olevels is expected to better protect children, the elderly, and people with asthma.[4]

African Americans suffer disproportionately from asthma and other diseases and conditions made worse by air pollution. The rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to asthma are both 3 times higher among African Americans than among whites.[5] 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.[6]

For the Final Rule, we urge the EPA to revise the standard to 60 ppb for O3.  We believe that this lower limit will better protect vulnerable populations, and reduce the disproportionate health burden suffered by African Americans from asthma.

You can see the comments filed with the EPA by Living Well Black here:  LWB EPA O3 Comments

–Janell Mayo Duncan

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

[2] McCarthy, Gina, EPA Administrator, “U.S. EPA: We need tougher ozone standards,” CNN Money, November 26, 2014.  http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/26/news/economy/epa-stronger-ozone-standard/

[3] “Children’s Environmental Health Disparities: Black and African American Children and Asthma,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/epahome/sciencenb/asthma/HD_AA_Asthma.pdf. (viewed 3/17/2014)

[4] 79 Fed. Reg. at 75236 (December 17, 2014).

[5] 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.

[6] “Asthma and African-Americans,” http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=3&lvlID=532&ID=6170.

State Seat Belt and Child Restraint Laws

Motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of death for people 1-54 years old.  Using adult seat belts, booster seats, and car seats appropriate for a child’s age is best way to reduce risks of injury. Safety Belt

Every state (but New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia require safety belt use in the front seat. Most states and the District of Columbia require riders to wear seat belts in the rear seat too. For children, all states and the District of Columbia have child restraint requirements mandating the use of car seats and booster seats.  Some laws require older children to use adult safety belts.

Ever wonder what the law is in your state?  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has information on the laws in all states and the District of Columbia that you can read here.

–Janell Mayo Duncan

COPYRIGHT©2015 by Living Well Black, Inc.

Sources:

“Safety Belts,” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (viewed 1/26/2015)

“Seat Belts: Get the Facts,” Center for Disease Control (Viewed 1/26/2015)