Author Interviews, CDC, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 02.12.2016 Interview with: Rogelio Saenz PhD Dean, College of Public Policy University of Texas at San Antonio Senior Fellow What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: My colleague, Kenneth M. Johnson, and I conducted research based on mortality and birth data from the Center for Disease Control. These data allow us to assess natural decrease, i.e., greater number of deaths compared to births. We find that 17 states had more white deaths than white births in 2014, the most historically, compared to only four in 2004. We find that the 17 states with white natural decrease tend to have relatively high percentages of their populations being elderly (65 and older), low proportions of women being in childbearing ages (15-44), and relatively low fertility rates. (more…)
Author Interviews, Johns Hopkins, Kidney Disease, Nutrition, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 21.11.2016 Interview with: Deidra C. Crews, MD, ScM, FASN, FACP Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology Associate Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Medicine Director, Doctoral Diversity Program Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore MD 21224 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Studies suggest that dietary patterns influence risk of kidney function decline. Barriers may hinder urban African Americans' following healthful diets that could mitigate their increased risk of kidney function decline. In this study, we characterized contextual barriers to healthful eating among urban African Africans with hypertension and examined the association of these barriers to kidney function decline over 1 year. We examined the presence of healthy foods in neighborhood stores of study participants. We also assessed them for food insecurity (the inability to afford nutritionally adequate and safe foods), directly observed and documented the presence of fruits and vegetables in their homes, and examined their fruit and vegetable intake via questionnaire. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Heart Disease, JACC, Race/Ethnic Diversity, UT Southwestern / 13.11.2016 Interview with: Wanpen Vongpatanasin, M.D. Professor of Medicine Norman & Audrey Kaplan Chair in Hypertension Fredric L. Coe Professorship in Nephrolithiasis and Mineral Metabolism Research Director, Hypertension Section, Cardiology Division, UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, TX 75390-8586 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Aortic stiffness is known to be associated with cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure, possibly related to increase afterload to the left ventricle. Previous studies have not directly assessed proximal aortic function among ethnic minorities in the United States. We evaluated the multiethnic, population-based Dallas Heart Study participants (N=2544, 54.2% women, 49.7% Black) who underwent cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) at 1.5 Tesla. Aortic stiffness and characteristic impedance (Zc) were determined from aortic arch PWV and lumen area measurements. Linear regression was used to evaluate ethnic differences in proximal aortic wall stiffness using aortic arch PWV and Zc as dependent variables with and without adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors. (more…)
Author Interviews, End of Life Care, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, UCSF / 02.11.2016 Interview with: Krista Lyn Harrison, PhD Division of Geriatrics School of Medicine University of California San Francisco VA Medical Center San Francisco, CA 94121 What is the background for this study? Response: Advance care planning (ACP) is the process of discussing plans and preferences for end-of-life care. It may include completion of advanced directives or a living will and designation of a surrogate decision-maker in a durable power of attorney for health care. There is a growing awareness of the benefits of such discussions for both elders and their families. In absence of these discussions, loved ones are left to guess what the affected individual wanted or may even get mired in unexpected legal issues. But until recently, it was unknown if all races/ethnicities, education levels, and incomes have benefited from efforts to improve engagement in advance care planning, and if these discussions are greater among those in worse health and with a poorer prognosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 01.11.2016 Interview with: Jennifer Howse, Ph.D. President of the March of Dimes Foundation What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card was created in 2007 to raise awareness of the unfair burden of preterm birth in certain communities and geographic areas in the United States. We also want to monitor progress, or lack of it, towards our goal to lower the national preterm birth rate to 8.1 percent by 2020 and to 5.5 percent by 2030. This year’s Report Card finds that, for the first time in eight years, the nation’s preterm birth rate did not decline – it worsened from 9.57 percent of all live births in 2014 to 9.63 percent in 2015, earning the nation a “C” grade. Seven states -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, and Wisconsin – received worse grades this year than last year on the Report Card. The March of Dimes strives for a world where every baby has a fair chance for a full-term pregnancy and a healthy birth, yet this is not the reality for many mothers and babies. The 2016 Report Card shows that babies in this country have different chances of surviving and thriving simply based on the circumstances of their birth. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 10.10.2016 Interview with: Dr Tamara Shiner MD PhD Specialist in Neurology Neurology Division Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although in the past believed to be sporadic, there is much emerging evidence for a significant genetic contribution to Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Hetrozygosity for common mutations in the GBA gene have been shown to be more frequent among DLB patients and Parkinson's disease patients than in the general population. We found that GBA mutations are in fact exceptionally frequent among Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) patients with Dementia with Lewy bodies. Our results indicate that one in three of all Ashkenazi DLB patients carry mutations in this specific gene (compared to approximately 6% in the general Ashkenazi Jewish population). We also found that those who carry these mutations have a more severe disease phenotype. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 04.10.2016 Interview with: Bijou R. Hunt,  MA Sinai Urban Health Institute, Sinai Health System Chicago, IL What is the background for this study? Response: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Hispanic women, as well as the leading cause of cancer death for this group. Research has shown that there are differences by Hispanic subgroup in various causes of death, including cancer, but we haven’t seen data on breast cancer specifically among Hispanic subgroups. The most important question we wanted to address with this study was: do breast cancer prevalence and mortality vary by Hispanic subgroup? (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, CDC, Compliance, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 19.09.2016 Interview with: Matthew Ritchey, DPT, PT, OCS, MPH Epidemiologist Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion What is the background for this study? Response: High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and death. Unfortunately, almost one in three U.S. adults (around 75 million) has high blood pressure, and nearly half of that group (about 34 million) doesn’t have it under control. As part of CDC’s ongoing efforts to monitor trends and risk factors contributing to cardiovascular disease, we collaborated with colleagues at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to look at blood pressure medicine nonadherence among Medicare Part D enrollees ages 65 and over. Being nonadherent means that patients skip doses of their medicine or stop taking it altogether. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Ovarian Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Vitamin D / 19.09.2016 Interview with: Bo (Bonnie) Qin, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Associate Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ 08903 What is the background for this study? Response: Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer in the US. African-American patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer tend to have a worse 5-year survival rate compared to their European-American patients. Therefore, identifying preventive factors in African-Americans women is particularly important. African Americans tend to consume less calcium and vitamin D from dietary sources, due to a higher prevalence of lactose intolerance, and supplemental intake. Meanwhile, darker color of the skin reduces the synthesis of vitamin D upon sun exposure. They together place African-American women at risk for calcium and vitamin D deficiency. It remains unknown whether calcium, vitamin D, lactose and dairy products are associated with ovarian cancer risk in African-American women and our study aimed to answer this question. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Genetic Research, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 11.09.2016 Interview with: Khalaf Kridin, MD Department of Dermatology Rambam Health Care Campus Haifa Israel What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Pemphigus shows an uneven geographic and ethnic distribution. A high incidence of pemphigus was observed in some ethnic groups, namely Ashkenazi Jews and those of Mediterranean origin. This observation has been shown to be strongly related to several HLA-class II genes; HLA-DRB1*04 and HLA-A*10 which have been more frequently found among Ashkenazi Jewish pemphigus patients. We sought to estimate trends in the incidence of pemphigus in northern Israel in the years 2000-2015, in relation to the major ethnic groups who inhabit the same geographic area and exposed to the same environmental elements. The overall estimated incidence of pemphigus in northern Israel was 7.2 per million inhabitants per year (95% CI, 6.2-8.3). The incidence in the Jewish population was 3-fold higher than that in Arabs; 9.6 vs. 3.2 cases per million per year, respectively, p<0.0001), and higher among women than men; 9 vs. 5.3 cases per million per year, respectively, p<0.0001). Patients of Arab ancestry tend to present with the disease at earlier age, in line with observations from Arab and Mediterranean countries. A declining trend in the incidence of pemphigus throughout the last 16 years in northern Israel was observed. (more…)
Author Interviews, Leukemia, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Social Issues / 22.08.2016 Interview with: Luciano J. Costa, MD, PhD Associate Professor Department of Medicine and UAB-CCC Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cell Therapy Program Birmingham, AL 35294 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Even though expected survival for multiple myeloma patients has increased over the last two decades, that improvement has not been much more pronounced among White than among patients of racial/ethnic minorities. It is possible that such discrepancy results from unequal access to care, particularly as treatment becomes more complex and expensive. We used a large dataset of patients with  multiple myeloma to explore how socioeconomic factors, specifically marital status, income and insurance affect outcome and how these factors relate to race/ethnicity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Prostate Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Vitamin D / 02.08.2016 Interview with: Gerard (Gary) Hardiman, Ph.D Professor, Department of Medicine Professor Department of Public Health Sciences Bioinformatics Director Center for Genomic Medicine Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC 29425 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There are significant racial disparities in prostate cancer outcomes. The disease disproportionately affects African American men in terms of incidence, morbidity, and mortality, even after adjustment for stage. African American men have a 2- to 3-times increased risk of developing prostate cancer and have a greater mortality rate compared to European American men. We carried out a prospective clinical study aimed at examining the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation at 4,000 IU per day for two months in male subjects who selected surgical removal of the prostate (prostatectomy) as a definitive treatment for their prostate cancer. The primary goal of this study was to examine molecular differences in gene expression patterns relevant to prostate cancer disparities between African American and European American men, and investigate the global effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on the prostate transcriptome. We carried out genome wide expression profiling experiments using high throughput (HT) RNA sequencing. Transcriptional profiles of each of the patient’s tissue samples were generated and systems level analyses were performed. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Stroke / 27.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Mary Vaughan Sarrazin PhD Associate Professor Department of Internal Medicine University of Iowa Roy and Lucille Carver College of Medicine, and Iowa City VA Medical Center, Center for Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) Iowa City What is the background for this study? Response: Atrial fibrillation is associated with a higher risk of stroke. The CHA2DS2VASc score (congestive heart failure, hypertension, age 75 or older, diabetes, previous stroke, vascular disease, age 65-74, female sex) reflects stroke risk and is used to guide decisions regarding anticoagulation. Our prior work suggests that African Americans have a higher risk of stroke compared to other patients with atrial fibrillation, even after risk factor adjustments. In the current study, we used Medicare data to test whether addition of black race to CHA2DS2VASc score improves stroke prediction in patients with atrial fibrillation. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 26.07.2016 Interview with: Ted Miller, PhD Senior Research Scientist II Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation Calverton, Maryland What are the main findings? Response: Police use of undue force is an enduring tinderbox issue in America. We tried to solve it by passing the 14th Amendment after the civil war, thru the civil rights movement, the riots of the 1960s, the Rodney King riot. The discussion has focused on racial disparities in per capita rates of deaths, stops, and arrests. This article digs deeper. Its aims are to use health data sets to examine nonfatal injuries inflicted during police action and apply better denominators. Looking at nonfatal injuries is especially important as shootings with firearms or tasers account for virtually all deaths but few other injuries in police encounters. This study measures exposure as the sum of arrests plus traffic stops with search plus stops on the street. Those data come from FBI arrest reports, state arrest reports, and the 2011 Police-Public Contact Survey. Blacks have long had the highest per capita rates of stops and arrests. We believe this study is the first to assess the probability of being arrested when stopped. Those probabilities also are skewed, with police arresting 85% of Blacks and 82% of Hispanics who are stopped, well above the 71% of Whites and Native Americans and 61% of Asian-Americans. Arrest probabilities do not differ by sex or age group. The study used a newspaper census of deaths and took injury counts from the 2012 Health Care Cost and Utilization Program nationwide samples, counting people whose injuries resulted from “legal intervention.” In 2012, US police killed or injured an estimated 55, 400 people during stops and arrests. The daily toll was 3 deaths and 150 hospital-treated injuries. In 1 in 11 US homicides and legal intervention deaths, a police officer pulled the trigger. Surprisingly, the probability that a serious injury was fatal did not vary by race. Nor did the ratio of serious and fatal injuries to stops and arrests. Teenagers and to a lesser extent young adults were less likely than people age 30 and over to die or suffer a hospital-treated injury when stopped or arrested. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Stroke / 25.07.2016 Interview with: Romanus Roland Faigle, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Neurology The Johns Hopkins Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: Stroke care entails a variety of procedures and interventions, which generally fall into one of the two following categories: 1) curative/preventative procedures (such as IV thrombolysis and carotid revascularization), which intent to prevent injury and restore function; and 2) life-sustaining procedures (such as gastrostomy, mechanical ventilation, tracheostomy, and hemicraniectomy), which intent to address complications from a stroke and to prevent death. The use of curative/preventative procedures is supported by excellent evidence and is guided by well-defined criteria, while those are largely lacking for life-sustaining procedures. Therefore, curative/preventative are desirable for eligible patients, while life-sustaining procedures indicate the need to address undesired complications and in itself have questionable utility. We wanted to determine whether race differences in the use of the individual stroke-related procedures exist, and whether presence and directionality of differences by race follow a pattern unique to each of the 2 procedure groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 18.07.2016 Interview with: Evan L. Thacker, PhD. Assistant Professor College of Life Sciences Brigham Young University Provo, UT What is the background for this study? Response: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is diagnosed more commonly in whites than blacks in the United States. This seems paradoxical because blacks have higher prevalence of many risk factors for AF. Various explanations for this paradox have been proposed, including biological explanations as well as potential biases in research studies. We investigated one such bias – selection bias – as a potential explanation for the paradox. We did this by comparing the racial difference in atrial fibrillation prevalence among people who enrolled in an epidemiologic study versus people who were eligible to enroll in the study but did not enroll. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, PLoS, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 12.07.2016 Interview with: Matthew James O'Brien MD Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: In October 2015, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new diabetes screening guidelines. This government-supported expert group recommended screening asymptomatic adults who are 40-70 years old and overweight or obese for diabetes. Recent population trends show that racial/ethnic minorities develop diabetes at younger ages and lower weights than whites. Therefore, we sought to determine whether these screening criteria may fail to identify racial/ethnic minorities or other high-risk population subgroups. Our study population was 50,515 patients from federally-funded community health centers, which serve large numbers of minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Hospital Readmissions, JACC, NYU, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 12.07.2016 Interview with: Matthew Durstenfeld MD Department of Medicine Saul Blecker, MD, MHS Department of Population Health and Department of Medicine New York University School of Medicine NYU Langone Medical Center New York, New York What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Racial and ethnic disparities continue to be a problem in cardiovascular disease outcomes. In heart failure, minority patients have more readmissions despite lower mortality after hospitalization for heart failure. Some authors have attributed these racial differences to differences in access to care, although this has never been proven. Our study examined patients hospitalized within the municipal hospital system in New York City to see whether racial and ethnic disparities in readmissions and mortality were present among a diverse population with similar access to care. We found that black and Asian patients had lower one-year mortality than white patients; concurrently black and Hispanic patients had higher rates of readmission. These disparities persisted even after accounting for demographic and clinical differences among racial and ethnic groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, NYU, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Sleep Disorders, Stroke, Weight Research / 09.07.2016 Interview with: Azizi Seixas, Ph.D. Post-Doc Fellow Department of Population Health Center for Healthful Behavior Change NYU School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Compared with whites, blacks are disproportionately affected by strokes. The overwhelming prevalence of obesity among blacks compared to whites has been suggested as a possible explanation for the disproportionate rates of strokes among blacks compared to whites. Recent findings linking insufficient sleep and stroke as well as the disproportionate burden of insufficient sleep among blacks compared to whites might provide a unique mechanism explaining why blacks have higher rates of stroke. However, it is unclear whether insufficient sleep and obesity contributes to the higher rates of stroke among blacks compared to whites. To test our hypothesis, we utilized data from the National Health Interview Survey from 2004-2013 with a sample size of 288,888 individuals from the United States. Using Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) analysis, a form of machine learning analysis, we assessed the mediating effects of BMI on the relationship between short sleep duration (≤6 hrs. total sleep duration), long sleep duration (≥9 hrs. total sleep duration), and stroke, and whether race/ethnicity differences in obesity moderated these relationships. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Stroke / 04.07.2016 Interview with: Nilay Kumar M.B.B.S. Attending physician at Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School Boston, MA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Racial differences in stroke mortality have major health policy implications. A large body of evidence has shown significant racial differences in the incidence of stroke and associated mortality rate (death due to stroke per unit population per year) in the United States. Few studies to date have addressed racial differences in in-hospital outcomes after acute ischemic stroke using population level datasets. Previous studies have shown inconsistent results with respect to racial differences in in-hospital case fatality rate after acute ischemic stroke. Additionally, racial minorities have been known to be less likely to receive evidence based reperfusion therapies for several cardiovascular diseases including acute myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke. Previous studies on racial differences in stroke outcomes have rarely included Asian and Pacific Islanders. Against this background, we aimed to ascertain racial differences in outcomes of acute ischemic stroke hospitalization in the US using a nationally representative sample. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 22.06.2016 Interview with: Sirry Alang PhD Assistant professor of sociology and anthropology Lehigh University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Discrepancies exist between how some Black populations perceive depression and how depression is conceptualized within research and clinical settings. African Americans are exposed to a lot of stress from structural racism, yet, they perceive themselves to be resilient. The context of stress from discrimination and beliefs about depression inform how they express psychological distress. Depression is thought of as a weakness that is inconsistent with notions of strength in the community. Although depression was expressed through classic depressive symptoms such as feeling hopeless, loss of sleep, and losing interests in activities, symptom like anger, agitation, and the frantic need for human interaction were considered to be indicative of depression. Anger, agitation, and the frantic need for human interaction are not consistent with how depression is defined in the latest manual for psychiatric diagnosis- the DSM-V. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, UCSF / 22.06.2016 Interview with: Gregory M Marcus, MD, MAS, FACC, FAHA, FHRS Director of Clinical Research Division of Cardiology Endowed Professor of Atrial Fibrillation Research University of California, San Francisco What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We and others have previously demonstrated that, despite the observation that African Americans on average exhibit more risk factors for atrial fibrillation, they demonstrate a substantially reduced risk of the disease. This suggests that, if we could understand the mechanism underlying this apparent paradox, we might learn something fundamentally important to atrial fibrillation that would be relevant to treating or preventing the disease regardless of race. Building on our previous work demonstrating that, among African Americans, more European ancestry (determined by genomic testing) was a statistically significant predictor of atrial fibrillation, we sought to identify the gene(s) that might underlie this observation. The analysis took two forms. First, we examined if any differences among several well-established single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with atrial fibrillation might mediate the race-atrial fibrillation relationship. One such SNP statistically mediated (rs10824026) up to about a third of the race-atrial fibrillation relationship. It’s important to mention that a causal relationship cannot be proven here. Perhaps more remarkable was the observation that the disease-associated alleles of the SNPs most closely associated with atrial fibrillation in multiple studies were actually significantly more common among African Americans, pointing to the complex nature of both the race-atrial fibrillation relationship as well as the genetics of atrial fibrillation. Finally, leveraging the ancestral relationships, we performed a genome wide admixture mapping study with the hope of reducing the penalty for multiple hypothesis testing incurred in conventional genome wide association studies. While several loci revealed associations with atrial fibrillation with small p values, none met our criteria for genome wide significance. (more…)
Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 17.06.2016 Interview with: Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD Professor Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy City University of New York What is the background for this study? Dr. Borrell: Racial/ethnic disparities in birth outcomes in the United States are well documented, with non-Hispanic Black women exhibiting the worst outcomes. Several hypotheses have been proposed as explanation to this finding such as the weathering hypothesis and cumulative or chronic experiences of social inequality and racism. However, these hypotheses have only accounted for the stress burden associated with the mother’s race/ethnicity, as her race/ethnicity has been the sole information used to determine the child’s race/ethnicity, ignoring the possible stress associated with the father’s race/ethnicity. We used NYC birth- and death-linked data from 2000 to 2010 to examine the added effect of paternal race/ethnicity on adverse birth outcomes (low birth weight [LBW], small for gestational age [SGA], preterm births, and infant mortality [IM]) among NYC women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetologia, Heart Disease, Johns Hopkins, Lifestyle & Health, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 10.06.2016 Interview with: Joshua J. Joseph, MD Christopher D. Saudek M.D. Fellow in Diabetes Research Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine What does your study explore? Response: Our study explores two basic questions: (a) Are multi-ethnic people with higher levels of cardiovascular health less likely to develop diabetes based on the AHA ideal cardiovascular health metric? (b) Do these associations vary by race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, Chinese American, African American, and Hispanic American)? Why did you choose this topic to explore? Response: The literature has shown a strong association between lifestyle factors and elevated risk of diabetes in majority non-Hispanic white studies. One study of American Indians showed that meeting a greater number of ideal cardiovascular health goals was associated with a reduced risk of diabetes. We aimed to assess the association of baseline ideal cardiovascular health with incident diabetes within a multi-ethnic population, due to variation of ideal cardiovascular health by race/ethnicity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Stroke / 04.06.2016 Interview with: George Howard, Dr.P.H. Professor of biostatistics Birmingham School of Public Health University of Alabama What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Howard: What has been known for many decades is that death rates from stroke are much higher in the black than white population, particularly between the ages of 45 – 65 (or maybe even a little older). These racial differences in stroke are among the greatest disparities for any disease, clearly it is a priority to reduce this disparity. However, there are two reasons more blacks could die from a disease: 1) more blacks get the disease, or 2) once you get the disease, it is more likely to kill blacks. The implications of knowing which of these is the major contributor is profound. If the driving force is more blacks are having more stroke, then we need to focus out attention on activities before stroke occur. For example, prevention of the greater prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in blacks, and also reducing the differences in the control of blood pressure and glucose. However, if the driving force is a higher chance of death in blacks once stroke occur, then we need to focus on the disparities in how black stroke patients are cared for compared to white stroke patients. That is, the former requires community-based efforts, while the latter requires hospital-based efforts. What we found was that nearly all the difference was that blacks are having more strokes ... not that they are more likely to die once stroke occurs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Social Issues / 03.06.2016 Interview with: Zhenmei Zhang, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Sociology Michigan State University East Lansing, MI48824 What is the background for this study? Dr. Zhang: Blacks are especially hard hit by cognitive impairment and dementia. Recent estimates of dementia prevalence and incidence were substantially higher for blacks than whites. Reducing racial/ethnic disparities in dementia has been identified as a national priority by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2011. So I really want to contribute to the ongoing discussion of the origins and pathways through which racial disparities in cognitive impairment is produced. If we have a better understanding of the factors contributing to racial disparities in cognitive impairment in later life, more effective interventions can be conducted to reduce the racial disparities. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Women's Heart Health / 27.05.2016 Interview with: Norman C. Wang, M.D., M.S., Assistant professor University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant professor of Epidemiology University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We examined medical records, blood samples and heart CT scans for 372 black and white women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women averaged just over 51 years old, were not on hormone replacement therapy and had no known heart disease when enrolled. We then looked at blood levels of five biomarkers linked to inflammation. All of the biomarkers were associated with coronary artery calcification, a predictor of heart disease that is measured with a heart CT scan. Taking into account the participants’ body mass index (BMI), a measure of overall body fat, we found that obesity was a key factor linking most of the elevated inflammation biomarkers and coronary artery calcification. Regardless of BMI, black women with higher levels of one particular biomarker, C-reactive protein, were more likely to have coronary artery calcification than whites. In fact, black women with coronary artery calcification had an average level of C-reactive protein in their blood that was almost double that of their white counterparts. (more…)