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Expert says it's important Black Americans manage heart health to avoid serious problems

PHOENIX (Feb. 26, 2024) – This month, Banner Health has focused on certain diseases that impact the health of Black Americans. This will be the last article during Black History Month as we wrap up our series on health awareness.  

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-white Hispanics. Black women are nearly 50% more likely to have high blood pressure, compared to their white counterparts.  

Dr. I-Hui Ann Chiang, an interventional cardiologist at Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix, said the top three elements impacting Black American heart health can be tied to genetic, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors. 

“One example of these elements is higher rates of uncontrolled hypertension in the Black community,” said Dr. Chiang. “High blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular issues.  There are both social and genetic components to hypertension - lifestyle and socioeconomic factors are intimately intertwined. People in lower socioeconomic strata have worse outcomes in most disease processes and cardiovascular issues are no different.”  
Dr. Chiang said Black Americans tend to seek care at a later and more severe stage of heart disease. This can be contributed to several reasons such as lack of access to health care, socioeconomic factors that make it more challenging for people to take their medication and not attending follow-up appointments.  

She also noted that while genetics play an important role in heart health, there are no specific genes that can be targeted for treatment for the most common cardiovascular diseases. But despite this, family history and some genetic information can be used in preventative treatment efforts, such as lifestyle changes or introducing new medication.  

In terms of prevention, Dr. Chiang recommends that patients become an expert on their own health.  

"I encourage my patients to learn about their health issues, what causes them, the expected progression, prevention, treatment options,” said Dr. Chiang. “I also encourage patients to always advocate for themselves by asking these exact questions to their health care providers.  Always obtain second opinions if your current health care provider does not answer your questions to your satisfaction or comfort.” 
Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix is a large teaching hospital that has provided medical care to Arizona and the Southwest since 1911. It is part of Banner – University Medicine, a premier academic medical network. The institution, which has trained thousands of doctors over decades as a teaching hospital, is the academic medical center for The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. The hospital, recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s best hospitals, specializes in heart care, cancer care, high-risk obstetrics, neurosciences, organ transplants, medical toxicology and emergency care, including a Level I trauma center. Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix is part of Banner Health, a nonprofit health care system with 33 hospitals in six states. For more information, visit

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