Meet the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC). Founded in 1974, the ABC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing heart health disparities in people of color. ABC is based in Washington, DC, with over 2,000 cardiologists and health workers worldwide. Its strong network of partners works to lessen the impact of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. The ABC and NHLBI have enjoyed a shared and distinguished history. NHLBI has supported ABC’s launch of blood pressure control programs in churches, barbershops, and beauty salons. In 2007, the ABC extended this collaboration to further translate research into community-level interventions.  

Fast facts: ABC is a member of the Healthy Hearts Network, a national partnership network coordinated by The Heart Truth® —NHLBI’s national health education program that promotes awareness about heart disease risk and prevention. The Heart Truth® has spent over 20 years encouraging women and those most affected by heart disease to adopt healthy heart behaviors.

Sweet inspiration. “The impact of health disparities is evident in the adverse health outcomes experienced by African Americans,” says Anekwe Onwuanyi, MD, ABC’s president. African Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic White Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. “Unequal access to health information or care is one factor contributing to this disparity,” says Dr. Onwuanyi. In response, ABC offers tailored recommendations supported by NHLBI research in communities with people at higher risk for heart disease. 

ABC members Yolanda Hendley, MD, and Richard Allen Williams, MD
ABC members Yolanda Hendley, MD, and Richard Allen Williams, MD


Big impact. ABC has played a crucial role developing and implementing With Every Heartbeat Is Life, a community health worker program developed by NHLBI and The Heart Truth.® The program trains community health workers in African American communities on how to combat heart disease close to home. They give presentations about healthy living, share recipes from a heart-healthy cooking manual, and help patients understand the importance of exercise. “The program creates direct engagement with people on the ground who deeply understand the challenges within their community,” notes Dr. Onwuanyi. “They effectively advocate for and voice their needs to other stakeholders who can offer valuable support."   

Bright future. November 2024 will mark the 50th anniversary of the ABC. Looking ahead, ABC plans to help people manage risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes before they go on to cause larger problems. “We are delving into diseases to understand them better,” says Dr. Onwuanyi. “We are also exploring emerging treatments and solutions informed by ongoing NHLBI research. That way, we can enhance community education and advance health equity on multiple fronts.”