Running head: AFRICAN AMERICAN HEALTH ISSUES The Health Issues Concerning the African American Population Andrea Chisholm 2633467 Health Studies 201 Assignment 3 Athabasca University August 20, 2007 Student Manuel © 2005 African Americans first arrived to the United States as a crew on a pirate ship in the year 1619 (Bennett, 1992 as cited in Edelman & Mandle, 2002). The American population saw these new immigrants as an opportunity and captured many of the six million African immigrants and sold them as slaves (Bennett, 1992 as cited in Edelman & Mandle, 2002).

The African American community suffered through a history of slavery and discrimination which has led to their current health and wellness problems. Many of their current problems have been linked to the segregation and cruel treatment that they were subjected to in the past, but African Americans have made significant achievements in overcoming these obstacles in the last number of years (Edelman & Mandle, 2002). The African American population contributes to over twelve percent of the entire United States population (U. S. Census Bureau, 2007).

Within this population stems poverty, lower socioeconomic status and health issues (Edelman & Mandle, 2002). The health issues among African Americans have become an ongoing debate. Why is it that African Americans have a higher mortality rate than the average Americans? According to statistics in 1999, Americans could expect to live 77. 8 years while the life expectancy of an African American was approximately 73. 1 (CDC, 2007). African Americans have become susceptible to many diseases and health problems throughout the last number of years.

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The male and female citizens of the African American population have been struggling with high rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer rates, stroke, diabetes, asthma and HIV/AIDS just to name a few. The African American woman is more likely to be a single mother and more likely to have more children than the non-African American population (U. S. Census Center, 2004). This puts the women and her children at a higher risk of poverty and therefore inadequate health services. The health status and important issues involving African American men and women will be discussed thoroughly throughout this essay.

Cardiovascular disease is a serious health issue concerning the African American population. Cardiovascular disease is a broad category that includes any disease that affects the heart or blood vessels (Powers, Dodd & Noland, 2006). These diseases include arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris arrhythmias, and congenital and rheumatic heart disease (Powers, Dodd & Noland, 2006; Donatelle, 2004). African Americans in particular are susceptible to developing the disease.

For example, African Americans are forty-five percent more likely to develop hypertension (Donatelle, 2004) and at an earlier age (CDC, 2007). Hypertension puts an individual at risk for damaging blood vessels throughout the body and therefore more likely to suffer from a myocardial infarction, heart failure, renal failure, impaired vision and strokes (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003). Therefore, an individual with hypertension would ultimately lead to more complicated and serious health issues. The African American population is also at risk for developing a stroke.

Powers, Dodd & Noland (2006) state that a stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is decreased cause by a blockage in the vessels, which ultimately leads to brain damage. According to Donatelle (2004), African Americans are sixty percent more likely to develop a stroke and one and a half times more likely to die from the stroke than white individuals. Strokes can lead to problems in speech, memory, vision, mild paralysis, major paralysis or even death (Power, Dodd & Noland, 2006). The American Heart Association (2001) as cited in Donatelle (2004) eveals that males of African American descent are seven percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease than whites whereas African American females had almost 19 more deaths per one hundred thousand deaths more than whites (Donatelle, 2004). Coronary heart disease also known as coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and involves any abnormal conditions that affect the functioning of the heart (Edelman & Mandle, 2003). The conditions involved in Coronary Heart disease are atherosclerosis, angina pectoris and myocardial infarction.

Cancer is an additional health issue that is prevalent among the African American population. Cancer is defined by Smeltzer & Bare (2003) as a serious disease in which there is abnormal cell growth which disturbs the normal cells in the body. African Americans have the highest cancer mortality rate of any racial group within the United States and their five year cancer survival rate for each cancer site is considerably lower than when compared to white Americans (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003).

The African American population is more likely to have cancer of the esophagus, uterus, c ervix, stomach, prostate, liver and larynx (Donatelle, 2004). African American women in particular tend to have increased rates of mortality in breast cancer and cervical, most likely cause by low rates of Pap smears and mammograms (CDC, 2007). Men of African American descent are more likely to suffer from lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and rectum cancer (CDC, 2007).

Cancer cells can overtake the normal functioning cells in the body, decreasing the body’s performance, immunity and normal cell growth leading to sickness or death (Donatelle, 2004). Alcohol is also problematic for the African American population. Alcohol is one of the most significant problems among African Americans and leads to more violence, abuse, isolation and social consequences among black women when compared to white women (Donatelle, 2003). African Americans tend to have more of an alcohol problem as a population whole compared to whites but tend to consume less alcohol overall (Donatelle, 2004).

Excessive, long term alcohol intake can lead to enhanced risk of developing cancer, a damaged central nervous system and harmful effects to the cardiovascular system (Donatelle, 2004). Since African Americans are already at more risk for developing cancer and cardiovascular disease, alcohol would enhance the risk of developing these disease and thus would reduce their overall health. Another health issue that African Americans struggle with is diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that involves the body producing high levels of blood glucose levels (Powers, Dodd & Noland, 2006).

There are two types of diabetes; type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is known as the juvenile onset diabetes and caused by a lack of insulin production and secretion while type 2 is characterized by deficiency of insulin production, decreased production of insulin and increased insulin production and can usually be controlled by diet and exercise (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003). African Americans are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the white American population (CDC, 2007) and are more at risk for complications and death resulting from diabetes (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003).

Diabetes can lead to complications such as amputations, blindness, renal disease, and cardiovascular disease just to name a few (Smletzer & Bare, 2003). Respiratory illnesses also pose a problem for the African American population. For example, African Americans are fifty percent more likely to develop asthma than individuals that are white (Donatelle, 2004). According to Smeltzer and Bare (2003), asthma is “the chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that causes airways hyperresponsiveness, mucosal edema and mucous production.

Asthma causes chest tightness and extremely difficult breathing during exacerbations. Sweating, rapid heart rate, hypoxemia, central cyanosis and possibly death, although uncommon, are all possible risks from an asthma exacerbation (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003) HIV/AIDS or human immunodeficiency virus is another serious disease that is causes many deaths among the African American population. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among African American males aged thirty-five to forty-four (CDC, 2007).

Seventy percent of HIV/AIDS population is African American (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003). More the eighty percent of the pediatric HIV/AIDS population are either African American or Hispanic and fifty percent of the HIV/AIDS cases among African American women were caused by injection use (CDC, 2007). AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome is a deadly sexually transmitted disease that attacks and destroys the immune system in the body. HIV is the virus leads to AIDS. Violence is the final health issue discussed concerning the African American community.

Violence affects the health of millions of African Americans. Males of the African American descent have a one in twenty-eight chance of being murdered but those between ages twenty and twenty-two have a one in three chance (Donatelle, 2004). Homicide is the leading cause of death among males fifteen to twenty-four years of age. Although black males are more 1. 14 more times more likely than a white American to become a murder victim, black females are 1. 5 times less likely to be murdered than white females (Donatelle, 2004).

Although all of these health issues presented are extremely important to the health and well-being of African Americans, some tend to be more serious and thus put the African Americans more at risk for developing. The most severe disease affecting African Americans today is cardiovascular disease. In the past, African Americans have been more susceptible to developing this disease compared to white Americans. Cardiovascular disease has many detrimental health effects and can lead to more health problems throughout life.

Since it is known that African Americans are more susceptible to this disease, more programs should be in place to help African Americans reduce their risk factors. Diet, weight and exercise all play important roles in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003) and with the shift from health promotion to health prevention along with the increased level of education (CDC, 2007) completed by African Americans will provide the proper knowledge and education to help decrease cardiovascular disease.

HIV/AIDS is the second most severe disease that affects African Americans. HIV/AIDS kills thousands of African Americans each year and can by easily prevented. In the past African Americans have acquired HIV/AIDS primarily through heterosexual sex (CDC, 2007), therefore information and education on safe sex and condom use should be available to those age groups that are most at risk for developing these diseases. Also, as mentioned previously, fifty percent individuals who acquire HIV/AIDS through needles are African American (CDC, 2007).

Therefore, in the future, needle exchange programs and education about the dangers of needle use would be appropriate for this population. Cancer is third most deadly disease among African Americans. In the past, high cancer rates were thought to be caused by inadequate health care and disease screening (Smeltzer & Bare, 2003). Educating African Americans about the importance of mammograms and Pap exams for example will help more African Americans detect disease at earlier stages.

Also, focusing on the reason for inadequate health care among African Americans will help the public become more aware of health problems in our society. The fourth most severe disease affecting African Americans is violence. African American males in particular tend to be more prone to violence than other races. Homicide is one of the leading causes of death among the African American population. In the past societal causes of violence included poverty, unemployment, parental influence, cultural beliefs, discrimination and oppression and religious differences (Donatelle, 2004).

More support and services must be available to African Americans to help increase their job rate and socioeconomic status. Also, the American public must become aware of the racism and discrimination present in their society today. Addressing these issues and increasing law enforcement will help reduce the number of violent acts among African Americans. Alcohol is the fifth most problematic disease among African Americans. Alcohol abuse leads to more violence, abuse and poverty.

Again, education and support becomes a huge factor in reducing the alcohol use among African Americans. The black community must have the services available to them to help them deal with alcoholism and the effects of alcohol on the family. They must be educated on the problems associated with alcohol and therefore make the decision to avoid alcohol. Diabetes is the sixth most severe disease affecting the African American population. In the past African Americans are twice more likely to develop diabetes than white people (CDC, 2007).

In the future, African Americans must become aware of the risk factors associated with developing diabetes such as weight and lifestyle and should be educated in how to avoid developing diabetes. Asthma is the least severe disease affecting African Americans. According to Donatelle (2004), African Americans are more likely to develop asthma than white individuals. Although asthma can be a fatal disease, it is usually very rare. Asthma can be inconvenient and problematic but can be controlled. African Americans must be aware of the factors that cause asthma exacerbations and avoid these factors as much as possible.

This will help reduce the number of exacerbations and help in controlling this disease. It is thought that many of these health issues are caused by the poverty that many African Americans experience along with the discrimination and unequal treatment (CDC, 2007). These factors lead to inadequate health care access, lower education and poorer overall health status. African Americans must have access to programs and services that will allow them to become educated and informed about the health risks that they are more likely to acquire.

In order to achieve these goals, health programs must be encouraged and promoted in the African American community. For example, HIV/AIDS is a serious disease that tends to affect the African American community more so than other races. African Americans must be aware of the risks and be attentive to the causes of HIV/AIDS. There are many programs that are readily available for the prevention and education of HIV/AIDS. One of these programs in particular is a needle exchange program. A needle exchange program is provides clean sterile needles for those people who are injection users.

This program gives the individual a place to exchange their used needle properly and then receive a new, sterile needle (CDC, 2005). Studies are showing that syringe exchange programs are working. Many syringe exchange programs offer other services which include but are not limited to the following: HIV/AIDS education and counseling, condom distribution to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases, referral to substance abuse programs, alcohol swabs for the injection site, on site HIV testing and counseling, infection screenings and medical services (CDC, 2005).

With this education, counseling and referral, syringe exchange programs may help injection drug users quit using drugs. Studies have also shown that if clean sterile needles are available, then injection drug users will use them (CDC, 2005). Evidence has shown that syringe exchange programs have reduced risk behavior by 80 percent and have reduced HIV/AIDS infection by as much as 30 percent (National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel on HIV Prevention as cited in CDC, 2005). Other studies indicate the cost effectiveness of syringe exchange programs.

Holtgrave and Pinkerton (1997) as cited in CDC (2005) state that syringe exchange programs cost about four thousand to twelve thousand dollars while treating a person with HIV costs 190 thousand dollars. Although syringe exchange programs are an excellent prevention method, some communities and individuals are still weary about the idea. Many individuals do not want syringe exchange programs in their area as they may encourage drug users into their area although studies have proven otherwise (CDC, 2005). Some states have drug paraphernalia laws that discourage syringe exchange programs.

Although there are factors preventing syringe exchange programs, much though must be given to the benefits of providing this service. HIV is an enormous problem in the United States and syringe exchange programs, if promoted, may be able to reduce the number of HIV infections. Another program that has just been announced by the Center for Disease Control is a screening among African American people for HIV/AIDS. Many African Americans are living with HIV/AIDS and are asymptomatic and do not realize that they have the disease.

Therefore, they would be infecting other individuals with this disease. This program will focus on areas in the United States that have a large population of African Americans already infected with HIV/AIDS. The African American individuals in this area will be screened for HIV/AIDS in order to identify and new cases. The goal of this program is to screen 1. 5 million African Americans and diagnose 20, 000 new cases of HIV/AIDS (CDC, 2007a) and ultimately reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases. Although only two programs have been discussed to help prevent HIV/AIDS, much more can be done.

Education and health promotion in schools and clinics is integral in reducing the number of infections. Individuals, especially those that at high risk must be aware of the causes of HIV/AIDS. Preventative measures must be taken in order to reduce their risk. If more people become aware of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, more will be done to conquer it. References Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). Black or African American populations. Retrieved via the World Wide Web on August 16, 2007 from: http://www. cdc. ov/omhd/Populations/BAA/BAA. htm Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2007a). Expanded and integrated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing for populations disproportionately affected by HIV, primarily African Americans. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on August 29, 2007 from: http://www. cdc. gov/od/pgo/funding/PS07-768. htm Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2005). Syringe exchange programs. Retrieved via the World Wide Web on August 29, 2007 from: http://www. cdc. gov/idu/facts/AED_IDU_SYR. df Donatelle, R. J. (2004). Access to health (8th ed. ). San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc. , Benjamin Cummings. Edelman, C. L. & Mandle, C. L. (2002). Health promotion throughout the lifespan (5th ed. ). St. Louis. Mosby, Inc. Powers, S. K. , Dodd, S. L. , & Noland, V. J. (2006). Total fitness and wellness (4th ed. ). Toronto: Pearson Education, Inc. , Benjamin Cummings. Smeltzer S. C. & Bare, B. G. (2003). Textbook of medical-surgical nursing (10th ed. ). New York: Lipponcott Williams & Wilkins. African american

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