About the ABC

Cardiology Review® Online, July 2005, Volume 22, Issue 7

The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) , Inc., appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with Cardiology Review and to share information about the ABC with its readers. The ABC has been fighting to eliminate health disparities since

its inception. We are dedicated to ensuring that minorities are afforded equal access to quality health care. All Americans should be invested in assuring that all citizens benefit equally from excellent medical care

The first conference on disparities in cardiovascular health care was convened at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in 1974 and attended by 17 cardiologists and other health-care professionals who became aware of what almost no one else knew at the time: African Americans had higher rates of cardiovascular-related diseases, which were exacerbated by inadequate care that resulted in much higher morbidity and mortality. While most non-black children can look forward to a long, meaningful relationship with their grandparents, African American children cannot because of the ravages of cardiovascular disease. By the time African American children graduate from high school, they are fortunate if they have one surviving grandparent.

Those in attendance at that first conference determined that an organization was needed to bring special focus and attention to this problem. What emerged was an inclusive organization with membership open to all who are interested in ensuring that African American children can know their grandparents so they will become GREAT grandparents. This, they thought, could only be achieved by effectively lowering the high rate of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke in our community. The goal was to promote the availability of culturally competent health-care providers, effective and respectful care, equal access to medical care, and more emphasis on community-based health risk reduction programs. These programs empower people to take responsibility for their own health and produce research that will provide the data needed for more appropriate planning and implementation of effective strategies.

Today, the ABC is an advocate, catalyst, organizer, coach, cheerleader, motivator, partner, leader, and innovator for whatever will reduce the tremendous burden of cardiovascular disease in our community. Our goal is to achieve zero disparity in our vulnerability to cardiovascular disease, and our access to quality health care and improved outcomes from treatment.

Most African American men and women are more afraid of cancer (breast and prostate), AIDS, and violence than cardiovascular disease, even though cardiovascular disease is responsible for more deaths in the black community than all other diseases combined. In addition, those diagnosed with cancer and diabetes tend to become so preoccupied with addressing their immediate problem that they succumb to cardiovascular disease because cardiovascular risk factors were ignored. While cancer, AIDS, and violence are serious problems that plague our community, we should not underestimate the impact of cardiovascular disease on our health and well-being. Our first hint of a cardiovascular problem is often our last because three out of four deaths from coronary heart disease occur during the first attack. African Americans are also more likely to ignore and “tough out” the symptoms of heart and brain attacks than whites.

Each month, we will use this opportunity to share our innovations and hopefully plant seeds that will flourish and

ultimately eliminate cardiovascular disparities in our country. Children deserve to know their grandparents.