Health Issues Concerning African American Population

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The Health Issues Concerning the African American Population

Andrea Chisholm


Health Studies 201

Assignment 3

Athabasca University

August 20, 2007

Student Manuel © 2005

African Americans first arrived to the United States as a crew on a pirate ship in the year 1619 (Bennett, 1992 as cited in Edelman & Mandle, 2002). The American population saw these new immigrants as an opportunity and captured many of the six million African immigrants and sold them as slaves (Bennett, 1992 as cited in Edelman & Mandle, 2002). The African American community suffered through a history of slavery and discrimination which has led to their current health and wellness problems. Many of their current problems have been linked to the segregation and cruel treatment that they were subjected to in the past, but African Americans have made significant achievements in overcoming these obstacles in the last number of years (Edelman & Mandle, 2002). The African American population contributes to over twelve percent of the entire United States population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). Within this population stems poverty, lower socioeconomic status and health issues (Edelman & Mandle, 2002). The health issues among African Americans have become an ongoing debate. Why is it that African Americans have a higher mortality rate than the average Americans? According to statistics in 1999, Americans could expect to live 77.8 years while the life expectancy of an African American was approximately 73.1 (CDC, 2007). African Americans have become susceptible to many diseases and health problems throughout the last number of years. The male and female citizens of the African American population have been struggling with high rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer rates, stroke, diabetes, asthma and HIV/AIDS just to name a few. The African American woman is more likely to be a single mother and more likely to have more children than the non-African American population (U.S. Census Center, 2004). This puts the women and her children at a higher risk of poverty and therefore inadequate health services. The health status and important issues involving African American men and women will be discussed thoroughly throughout this essay. Cardiovascular disease is a serious health issue concerning the African American population. Cardiovascular disease is a broad category that includes any disease that affects the heart or blood vessels (Powers, Dodd & Noland, 2006). These diseases include arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris arrhythmias, and congenital and rheumatic heart disease (Powers, Dodd & Noland, 2006; Donatelle, 2004). African Americans in particular are susceptible to developing the disease. For example, African Americans are forty-five percent more likely to develop hypertension (Donatelle, 2004) and at an earlier age (CDC, 2007). Hypertension puts an individual at risk for damaging blood vessels throughout the body and therefore more likely to suffer from a myocardial infarction, heart failure, renal failure, impaired vision and strokes (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003). Therefore, an individual with hypertension would ultimately lead to more complicated and serious health issues. The African American population is also at risk for developing a stroke. Powers, Dodd & Noland (2006) state that a stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is decreased cause by a blockage in the vessels, which ultimately leads to brain damage. According to Donatelle (2004), African Americans are sixty percent more likely to develop a stroke and one and a half times more likely to die from the stroke than white individuals. Strokes can lead to problems in speech, memory, vision, mild paralysis, major paralysis or even death (Power, Dodd & Noland, 2006). The American Heart Association...
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