Friday, June 15, 2007

African Americans and Stroke

HAT TIP: National Stroke Association

One half of all African American women will die from stroke or heart disease.

African Americans are twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians. The rate of first strokes in African Americans is almost double that of Caucasians.
The statistics are staggering -- African Americans are affected by stroke more often than any other group.


Not all of the reasons are clear why African Americans have an increased risk of stroke. Some factors include a higher rate of:
• High blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke, and 1 in 3 African Americans suffer from high blood pressure.
• Diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher stroke risk.
• Sickle cell anemia. If sickle-shaped cells block a blood vessel to the brain, a stroke can result.

African Americans also have a higher incidence than Caucasians of obesity and smoking, two other factors that can increase your risk for stroke.

If you have one or more of these risk factors, it's even more important that you learn about the lifestyle and medical changes you can make to prevent a
stroke. The National Stroke Association's stroke prevention guidelines will help you learn how you may be able to lower your stroke risk.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) and African Americans


What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure normally rises and falls. When the blood pressure is elevated over time, it is called high blood pressure. Any person can develop hypertension, which is the technical term for high blood pressure. Blood pressure measures the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels when the heart contracts to pump blood and when the heart rests between beats. In people with hypertension, the tension within the blood vessels is greater, which makes the heart work harder.

Hypertension has been called the "silent killer" because it can cause damage to many body organs without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, vision problems and even death.


African Americans, and people of African descent in the United Kingdom, have among the highest rates of hypertension of any race or ethnic type in the world.
• 35% of African Americans have hypertension, which accounts for 20% of the African American deaths in the United States - twice the percentage of deaths among whites from hypertension.
• Compared with whites, hypertension develops earlier in life and average blood pressures are much higher in African Americans.
• African Americans with high blood pressure have an 80% higher chance of dying from a stroke than in the general population.
• African Americans with high blood pressure have a 20% higher chance of developing heart disease than in the general population.
• African Americans with high blood pressure have a 4 times greater risk of developing hypertension related end stage kidney disease than the general population.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Heart Attack and Stroke Warning Signs

HAT TIP: American Heart Association

Dial 9-1-1 Fast
Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. If you see or have any of the listed symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1. Not all these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast!

Today heart attack and stroke victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients in years past. For example, clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. But to be effective, these drugs must be given relatively quickly after heart attack or stroke symptoms first appear. So again, don't delay — get help right away!


Coronary heart disease is America's No. 1 killer. Stroke is No. 3 and a leading cause of serious disability. That's why it's so important to reduce your risk factors, know the warning signs, and know how to respond quickly and properly if warning signs occur.

Heart attack warning signs

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

• Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Stroke Warning Signs

Remember, when you suspect that you or someone is having a stroke, act fast. Every minute counts. Here are some of the warning signs:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause


If you suspect that you or someone is having a stroke or heart attack, stop everything you are doing and get help from a trained medical professional. Don't waste time trying to figure out what's going on. Because while you're trying to decide if calling 911 is appropriate, brain cells could be dying and the heart could be on the virge of going into arrest. Keep in mind that death or disability could be prevented by getting the right kind of help if a stroke or heart attack is indeed happening.

Another thing... Teach these symptoms to your children. They may need to be the one the recognize these symptoms and call 911.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What's Your "Stroke IQ"?

Medical News Today

Stroke is the third largest cause of death, the top cause of disability, and the single biggest reason why people are admitted to nursing homes. But despite
this, studies have shown that Americans don't know enough about why strokes happen, what to do when they happen or how to prevent strokes from happening
in the first place.

So, the University of Michigan Stroke Program is offering a test that can check anyone's stroke IQ, and maybe bump it up a few points. Don't worry, the
test comes complete with answers, and explanations, from the U-M program's director, Lewis Morgenstern, M.D., who has led national studies on how to improve
knowledge about stroke. Share it with others, and help improve America's stroke IQ!

Question 1: What is a stroke?

Answer: It's a brain emergency. Just like a heart attack is a heart emergency, a stroke is a "brain attack."Dr. Morgenstern explains: "A stroke is what
happens in the brain when blood does not get to a part of the brain, and that part of the brain dies. Both heart attack and stroke are diseases of the
blood vessels."

Question 2: Are all strokes the same?

Answer: No. Most are caused by blocked blood vessels in the brain, but some are caused by bleeding in the brain. But no matter what the cause, strokes are
emergencies that can kill or disable someone within hours.

Dr. Morgenstern explains: "All strokes are not created equal. About 85 percent are ischemic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked
by a clot or fatty buildup. Ten percent of strokes occur when a blood vessel bursts; that's an intracerebral hemorrhage. And 5 percent of strokes occur
when an aneurysm, or weak spot in a blood vessel, ruptures, or there's other bleeding in the brain ?" that's called a subarachnoid hemorrhage."

Question 3: Are some people "destined" to have a stroke?

Answer: No. There's a lot you can do throughout life to reduce your risk. Dr. Morgenstern explains: "Stroke is the most preventable of all catastrophic
conditions, and I think that's very important for people to realize. Your destiny isn't to have a stroke the proper attitude is that your destiny is to
prevent yourself from having a stroke."

Question 4: What are the signs that someone is having a stroke?

Answer: Any sudden changes in thinking, feeling, moving, speaking, understanding or seeing. Dr. Morgenstern explains: "By definition, stroke symptoms occur
all-of-a-sudden. They come on rapidly, and they can come and go. The most common symptoms are sudden onset of weakness or numbness on one side of the body,
difficulty in speaking or understanding, and losing vision in an eye, like a shade coming down from above in one eye. Strokes can also cause unexplained
clumsiness, make a person drop objects, or cause someone to fall."

Question 5: What should you do if you think you, or someone near you, is having a stroke?

Answer: Call 911 immediately.

Dr. Morgenstern explains: "A stroke is a brain attack, and the faster a person gets diagnosed and treated, the better their chances will be. Don't wait,
don't call your doctor's office first, don't drive yourself to the hospital. Don't think that it's not a stroke just because you don't have any of the
risk factors. Get an ambulance, and fast."

Question 6: Does having a stroke mean you're definitely going to die or be disabled?

Answer: Not necessarily. Better and faster treatment is giving more people a chance to walk out of the hospital with minimal problems. Patients may do even
better if they go to a hospital with an accredited stroke center, like U-M.

Dr. Morgenstern explains: "A percentage of the 720,000 Americans who suffer a stroke each year will die within hours or days after it occurs. And for those
who survive it can be very disabling. But a sizable percentage of patients who have a stroke recover enough to function independently. Still, they will
always have a higher-than-normal risk of a second stroke."

Question 7: Do only elderly people have strokes?

Answer: No. Although the risk of a stroke goes up with age, people of any age can suffer strokes. Dr. Morgenstern explains: "Stroke is a disease that occurs
more commonly in people as they get older, but I've taken care of children with stroke, and people in their teens, 20s, 30s, and 40s with stroke. It can
occur anytime."

Question 8: What makes someone more likely to have a stroke?

Answer: High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, being overweight, having an abnormal heart-rhythm condition or other heart disease, or being related to
someone who has had a stroke are all risk factors that increase the chances a person will have a stroke. A person's risk goes up with every additional
risk factor he or she has.

Dr. Morgenstern explains: "The number one risk factor is hypertension, or high blood pressure. People who have atrial fibrillation, which is a very common
form of abnormal heart rhythm, also have a high stroke risk. Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke are important risk factors. Family history is important.
If your mother, father, sister, brother or child has had a stroke, you're at increased risk. People who are overweight, especially if they also have problems
with blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, have a higher risk. And of course, people who have survived a stroke or had a "mini stroke", also called
a TIA, have a much higher risk."

Question 9: What can people do to cut their stroke risk?

Answer: Quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and keep your blood-sugar levels under control if you
have diabetes. Talk to your doctor about other options, especially if you have atrial fibrillation or a family history of stroke. Dr. Morgenstern explains:
"Virtually all the risk factors for stroke are things that can be treated and limited. It's really up to the individual to take control of their risk factors
in order to prevent stroke. Heart rhythms, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, being overweight, and addiction to tobacco are all treatable. These
risk factors are very much interrelated, but many of them can be taken care of by a lifestyle that is active, with regular exercise, and by watching your
diet, and working with a physician for medication that might be needed. Even in people who have had a stroke or mini-stroke in the past, we can do a lot
to prevent a second one from occurring."

OK, pencils down! That's the end of the Stroke IQ Test how did you do? If you got all the way through it, you probably know more about stroke now than the
vast majority of Americans do. Now, share this IQ test with everyone you know especially if they have some of the risk factors like smoking, being overweight,
or having diabetes.

Facts about stroke:

-- Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and kills over 160,000 Americans each year.

-- Stroke is also a leading cause of serious long?"term disability in adults, and the leading reason for people to be admitted to nursing homes. -- About
700,000 strokes occur in the United States each year, mostly in people who have never had a stroke before.

-- Strokes can occur at any age. Nearly one-quarter of strokes are in people under age 65. The risk of having a stroke more than doubles for every decade
of life after the age of 55.

-- Stroke death rates are higher for African Americans than for whites, even at younger ages.

-- According to the American Heart Association, stroke cost almost $57 billion in both direct and indirect costs in 2005.

-- If given in the first few hours after a stroke begins, a treatment called tPA can help decrease the long-term effects of stroke in many people who suffer
the most common kind of stroke. But many people who could benefit from tPA never receive it.

University of Michigan Health System
2901 Hubbard St., Ste. 2400
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2435
United States

Why Blacks Do Not Successfully Donate Kidneys

Medical News Today

In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine explored why blacks are less likely than other races
to become living kidney donors, and the reasons are obesity and failure to complete the donor evaluation.

"Obesity is a growing problem in the African-American community, particularly among women, and this reflects what we found in the study," said Amber Reeves-Daniel,
D.O., an instructor in internal medicine-nephrology. "The other issue is the social reasons for non-donation, including failure to complete the donor evaluation
process. This issue is just not well understood."

Reeves-Daniel reported the results at the 2007 American Transplant Congress in San Francisco.

Donor questionnaires and charts for 541 disqualified potential donors were reviewed. The disqualified donors were all identified by documented information
- race, gender and cause of donor exclusion. In some cases, disqualified donors had more than one reason for exclusion.

About 30 percent of blacks were excluded because of obesity, compared to 16.6 percent of whites. Obesity was defined by body mass index (BMI) greater than
or equal to 32 kg/m². Twelve percent of blacks were excluded because they didn't complete the evaluation process, compared to 1.8 percent of whites. For
whites, the biggest reason for exclusion was kidney stones, at 7.3 percent, compared to 1.5 percent in blacks.

"Further study of these differences may improve our understanding of the causes of low rates of living kidney donation among African-Americans, particularly
regarding the social reasons," said Reeves-Daniel. "Is it lack of trust in the medical community, financial inability to get to doctor's appointments for
tests, concerns with work and child care, or perhaps some other issue?"

The researchers also examined reasons for non-donation between men and women. They found that more women than men did not donate because of reduced renal
function, at 7.9 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. Also, more women (6.4 percent) than men (1.8 percent) were excluded due to not completing the process.

"I did find this kind of surprising because more women successfully donate than men, at a rate of 58 percent versus 42 percent," said Reeves-Daniel.

"We hope all of these results will help with understanding so we can recruit successful donors in the future."


This article caught my attention simply because my cousin, who is in her 40's needed a kidney transplant a few years ago. Sadly, most of everyone in the family, including myself, could not donate a kidney because of our challenged health. That incident caused me to notice how almost everyone in our family was obese and suffering from hypertension and/or diabetes. In the time that we needed to help my cousin live, we couldn't. And the reality was that we couldn't help her because we also were slowly dying.

So, let's take care of ourselves so that we can live a long life, and help our loved ones live a long life as well.

Angela L. Braden
African American Health Network's Blog Administrator

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Diabetes Statistics for African Americans

American Diabetes Association

Approximately 2.7 million or 11.4% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes. However, one-third of them do not know it.

The most life-threatening consequences of diabetes are heart disease and stroke, which strike people with diabetes more than twice as often as they do others.
Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates 2 to 4 times higher than those without diabetes. African Americans with diabetes are at increased risk
for heart disease, stroke and other macrovascular complications. Other complications of diabetes include blindness, kidney disease, and amputations.

Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States, and it has no cure. The total annual economic cost of diabetes in 2002 was estimated to be
$132 billion, or one out of every 10 health care dollars spent in the United States.


List of 3 items
• African Americans are 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Latino whites.
• 25% of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes.
• One in four African American women over 55 years of age has diabetes.

African Americans and diabetes-related complications

African Americans experience higher rates of at least four serious complications of diabetes: cardiovascular disease, blindness, amputation and end stage
renal disease (kidney failure).
List of 4 items
• Heart disease strikes people with diabetes more than twice as often as it strikes people without diabetes. People with diabetes are five times more likely
to suffer strokes and once having had a stroke, are two to four times as likely to have a recurrence. Deaths from heart disease in women with diabetes
have increased 23% over the past 30 years compared to a 27% decrease in women without diabetes. Deaths from heart disease in men with diabetes have decreased
by only 13% compared to a 36% decrease in men without diabetes.

• Diabetic retinopathyis a term used for all abnormalities of the small blood vessels of the retina caused by diabetes, such as weakening of blood vessel
walls or leakage from blood vessels. African Americans are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes-related blindness.

• Diabetes is the most frequent cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations. The risk of a leg amputation is 15 to 40 times greater for a person with
diabetes. More than 60% of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations in the U.S. occur among people with diabetes. Each year, 82,000 people lose their foot or
leg to diabetes. Among people with diabetes, African Americans are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to suffer from lower limb amputations.

• Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 43% of new cases. Ten to 21% of all people with diabetes develop kidney disease. In 2000,
41,046 people with diabetes initiated treatment for kidney failure, and 129,183 people with diabetes underwent dialysis or kidney transplantation. African
Americans with diabetes are 2.6 to 5.6 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease.
list end

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Borrowed from: National Stroke Association

High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke

What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force your blood exerts on blood vessel walls as it travels through your body. Your blood pressure reading is expressed with two numbers - for example, 120/80. The first number, known as systolic blood pressure, is a measurement of the force your blood exerts on blood vessel walls as your heart pumps. The second number, known as diastolic blood pressure, is a measurement of the force your blood exerts on blood vessel walls when your heart is at rest between beats.

What is high blood pressure?
For people over age 18, optimal blood pressure is considered 120/80 or lower. Blood pressure, like your heart rate, will vary occasionally with exercise or stress. A blood pressure reading consistently higher than 120/80 is considered pre-hypertension. High blood pressure or Stage One hypertension is a measurement of 140/90 or higher. However, if you have had a previous heart attack, stroke, are diabetic, have kidney disease, high cholesterol or are overweight, speak with your physician about controlling and lowering your blood pressure more aggressively. Maintaining your blood pressure below 140/90 may reduce the risk of further complications.

Who has high blood pressure?
As many as 50 million Americans age six and older have high blood pressure. Of the one in every four adults with high blood pressure, 31.6 percent are not aware they have it.

How is high blood pressure related to stroke?
Doctors have long called high blood pressure “the silent killer” because you can have high blood pressure and never have any symptoms. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to life-threatening medical problems such as stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.

High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke because it puts unnecessary stress on blood vessel walls, causing them to thicken and deteriorate, which can eventually lead to a stroke. It can also speed up several common forms of heart disease.

When blood vessel walls thicken with increased blood pressure, cholesterol or other fat-like substances may break off of artery walls and block a brain artery. In other instances, the increased stress can weaken blood vessel walls, leading to a vessel breakage and a brain hemorrhage.

What causes high blood pressure?
In most cases, it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact cause of high blood pressure. There are, however, a number of factors that have been linked to high blood pressure including:
• A family history of high blood pressure
• Age - The incidence of high blood pressure rises in men after age 35 and in women after age 45
• Gender - Men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women
• Race - Approximately 33 percent of African-Americans have high blood pressure, compared to 25 percent of Caucasians

Other factors associated with hypertension include excess weight, excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes, lack of exercise and a high-salt diet.

How can high blood pressure be treated?
In most people, high blood pressure can be controlled through diet, exercise, medication, or a combination of all three.

A diet that is low in salt and rich in vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products may help lower your blood pressure. Recent studies have also show that increasing potassium intake, for example by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, may help lower blood pressure.

A program of regular exercise - appropriate to your age and fitness level, and approved by your health care provider - may not only aid in weight loss, but also help to lower your blood pressure.

Finally, a wide range of medications is available to treat high blood pressure. You and your health care provider may have to try several different drugs before you find the one that works best for you. This is common, so try not to be discouraged if it happens. Once you find a drug that works, be sure to take it as directed, exactly as prescribed, even when you feel fine. Medicine can help control your high blood pressure as long as you keep taking it. If you have already had a stroke, lowering your blood pressure even if you do not have high blood pressure, reduces the risk of recurrent stroke.

Where can I get more information on high blood pressure?
Speak with your health care provider about valuable “customized” strategies and information about your hypertension and how to control it. The key to keeping your blood pressure within the normal range is your commitment to be an active participant with your health care provider in your own care.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health can also provide information about high blood pressure and its treatment. Visit their website at

Watch Your Mouth

New York Post
May 11, 2007 --

Heads up - having oral sex with more than six people over a lifetime significantly increases the chance of getting throat cancer, a shocking
new study has found.

The risk is much greater to a provider of oral pleasure than to a smoker or drinker, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine

Scientists at John Hopkins' Kimmel Cancer Center discovered the link while researching whether human papillomavirus (HPV) causes oropharyngeal cancer, a
disease that affects the tonsils, back of the tongue and throat.

In a study of 100 people with the disease, cancer expert Dr. Maura Gillison discovered that those who previously had contracted an HPV infection were 32
times more likely to develop the cancer.

Participants who reported having more than six oral sex partners over their lifetime were 8.6 times more likely to develop the HPV-linked cancer, Gillison

That compares with a threefold risk of developing throat cancer for smokers, and a 21/2-times risk increase for drinkers.

Surprisingly, Gillison said the research found no added risk for HPV carriers who smoke and drink alcohol in developing the disease.

"It's the virus that drives the cancer," she said. "Since HPV has already disrupted the cell enough to steer its change to cancer, then tobacco and alcohol
use may have no further impact."

Oral sex is the main mode of transmitting an oral HPV infection, she said.

While most HPV infections clear without a person showing symptoms, a small percentage of patients who get the virus can develop various forms of cancer,
including those not necessarily related to the throat.

Gillison said HPV is equally transmitted between men and women. Of the 100 people included in her study, only 14 were women.

The doctor said a new FDA-approved vaccine can prevent girls and young women from getting HPV - but the inoculation has not yet been proven to help males.

Women are screened for HPV when they undergo a Pap smear for cervical-cancer screening, she noted, but doctors do not have methods to look for oral cancers.
The only way the disease can be picked up is through visual inspection, most often by a dentist.

While Gillison said it was too early to recommend HPV detection in oral cancer screening, she pointed out that HPV-linked oral cancers have been on the
rise for more than two decades.

She said she expects HPV-associated cancers will eventually outpace those caused by tobacco and alcohol use, which currently cause two-thirds of oropharyngeal,
oral cavity and pharynx cancers in the United States.

About 11,000 people nationally have been affected by those three diseases.