All ethnic populations are prone disproportionately to some conditions rather than others in comparison to other ethnic groups. The causes for this are multiple and include ethnicity, culture, education, income, and barriers encountered when accessing health care. Cultural differences regarding diet and exercise may combine to predispose individuals to some of these conditions.
For African Americans, these conditions include (Mouton, 1997):
- coronary artery disease
- end stage renal disease
- certain cancers
Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease and Stroke
These have been recognized for decades as major risks for African American older adults. Approximately 55 percent of Black people are reported to have hypertension. There is an inverse relationship between socioeconomic status and blood pressure, so that those in poverty have a higher risk. Also, African Americans are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites (Health and Human Services: https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/heart-disease-and-african-americans).
Breast cancer incidence is about the same for African American women as other women, but African American women have a 40% higher death rate from breast cancer.
Factors associated with the late stage diagnosis are:
- limited access to care
- care in public rather than private clinics
- higher body mass index
- lower rates of mammography
Figure 2 shows a comparison of cancer survival rates between Black and White patients. With the exception of Mesothelioma, Blacks tend to have a lower survival rate than Whites. Sizable disparities are seen in Breast, Corpus & Uterus, NOS, Larynx, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Oral Cavity & Pharynx and Kaposi Sarcoma.