by Michael Yonas, Dr.PH
For New Pittsburgh Courier
This month’s issue on heart disease is a continuation of the monthly series started last year, focusing on health disparities in the Pittsburgh region. The series is a partnership among the New Pittsburgh Courier, Community PARTners (a core service of the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute—CTSI) and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. Michael Yonas, DrPH, assistant professor of family medicine at Pitt, sat down with Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League, to talk about this month’s topic.
MY: Happy New Year, Ms. Bush! As so many people make their New Year’s resolutions to live healthier, it is a good time to point out some of the things we learned about cardiovascular disease (CVD) in this month’s segment. As with other topics we have covered in the previous segments, there seems to always be a lot that we can learn about improving our health.
EB: Happy New Year to you as well, Michael! After reading this month’s segment, I learned that CVD is the leading cause of death for men and women in the US. CVD is a “catch-all” term for so many of the health conditions that affect our loved ones, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, diabetes and lack of physical activity. As Dr. Schindler points out this month, about 50 percent of African Americans with hypertension either don’t know they have it or aren’t being treated enough to lower their blood pressure. According to the Allegheny County Health Department, 42 percent of African Americans locally have been told they have high blood pressure compared with 33 percent of Whites. As with the other topics we have covered in these segments, knowing that these disparities persist among African Americans nationally and locally is sad and frustrating.
MY: I absolutely agree with you, Ms. Bush. Dr. Schindler had some great advice for Courier readers in his section. It’s so important for people to be honest with their physicians about their lifestyle and the treatments they are prescribed. Being informed and involved in your health care is always the key to improved outcomes.
EB: We have so much expertise and so many CVD resources here in Pittsburgh, Michael. I really want to encourage everyone to get more involved in understanding and improving their health by talking to their health care provider. In addition, in order to help us learn more about the potential causes and solutions to address CVD and eliminate disparities, I also encourage everyone to learn about, ask questions about and consider participating in some of the research opportunities presented in this month’s segment.