The 10 Biggest Killers of Blacks
Regular checkups, changes in diet and lifestyle can prevent many of the health threats that affect African-Americans
SUPPOSE the entire population of Birmingham Ala., vanished. Just imagine that in one instant everyone who lived there suddenly disappeared. By this time next year, that's about the number of African-Americans (more than a quarter million people) who will die from the 10 biggest killers of Blacks of all ages(*)--heart disease, cancer, accidents, stroke, homicide, AIDS, diabetes, pneumonia and influenza, chronic pulmonary diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, and infant mortality.
Fortunately, experts say, with regular checkups and simple changes in lifestyle and nutrition, many of these health threats can be avoided.
The No. 1 medical threat to African-Americans is heart disease. A silent killer, this illness primarily strikes when fat collects in the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of blood to the heart. Obesity and high blood pressure make Blacks waiting victims for not only heart problems but also cancer and stroke, a condition caused when blood vessels rupture in the brain or blood clots prevent oxygen from reaching the brain. These diseases are the same leading health threats that plague Whites. But, doctors say, by the time most Blacks are diagnosed with these illnesses, they are more likely to die.
The top killers vary by gender and by age. For young African-Americans (ages 25-44), the leading threat remains AIDS, a disease this group contracts four times more often than Whites, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. And for Blacks in their late teens to early 20s, the biggest danger is homicide--often at the hands of another African-American.
Although research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta indicates that America's health has improved overall, the health status of Blacks is frightening, even with recent advancements. The death rate of African-American women from coronary heart disease is more than 30 percent than for White women. Blacks have almost twice as many strokes as Whites. And according to the American Cancer Society, Black men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world.
New risks unfold each day. A growing threat to young African-Americans, officials say, is suicide, which ranks among the CDC's Top 10 major killers of Blacks from their teens to mid-40s.
Top 10 Killers Of Blacks PROBLEM RISK FACTORS HEART DISEASE Obesity, high blood pressure, high-fat diets, smoking CANCER Smoking, obesity, high-fat diets, alcohol consumption, family environment ACCIDENTS N/A STROKE Obesity, high blood pressure, high-fat diets HOMICIDE N/A AIDS Unprotected sex, intravenous drug use DIABETES Obesity, stress, fami- ly history of the disease PNEUMONIA Smoking, alcohol con- AND INFLUENZA sumption, people with diabetes, cancer, AIDS ASTHMA AND Smoking, unclean BRONCHITIS conditions, poverty INFANT MORTALITY Lack of prenatal care, poverty PROBLEM DESCRIPTION HEART DISEASE Heart disease is caused primarily by fatty deposits that collect in the coronary arteries and reduce the flow of blood to the heart. CANCER Cancer is a group of diseases character- ized by the growth or spread of abnormal cells, ACCIDENTS N/A STROKE Stroke is caused by ruptured blood vessels in the brain or when blood clots block an artery to the brain, HOMICIDE N/A AIDS Results when the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects the body's white blood cells. …