With the incidence of heart attack, heart failure and stroke for African-Americans continuing to outpace rates for the White population, Allegheny General Hospital has embarked on a large scale study to find out why.

Called ESCADAA (the Epidemiological Study of Cardiovascular Risk in Urban African Americans), the study will examine the prevalence of nine changeable risk factors for cardiovascular disease among African-Americans: abnormal lipids, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, psychosocial factors, consumption levels of fruits, vegetables and alcohol, and lack of regular physical activity.

“We want to define the true prevalence of risk factors in our local population and see how those risk factors are influenced by socioeconomic factors such as income, education and health insurance coverage,” said principal investigator Dr. Indu Poornima, director of the Women’s Heart Center at AGH.

Though initiated in September, the study is still seeking to meet its enrollment of 250 African-American participants. Subjects must be between the ages of 40 and 70, and have no prior history of heart attack, congestive heart failure or stroke.

Study participants will complete a questionnaire, take a physical exam, undergo laboratory testing—including assessments of fasting blood sugar; high-sensitivity CRP, which measures inflammation, cholesterol and triglyceride levels; and have a non-contrast CT scan of the heart to check for calcium build-up in the arteries.

“Early medical intervention is the best weapon against heart disease,” said Dr. Poornima. “ESCADAA was designed to yield data that may help identify interventions, which can be used to improve the risk profile in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities.”

All testing will be done at AGH can be completed in a single visit. Participants will be sent a $10 check to cover travel. Currently, there are just 60 individuals enrolled, so another 95 are still needed for the study group.

The study is being funded by the Pittsburgh Foundation. Those interested should call 412-359-3802.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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