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CHW Health Disparities Initiative

Heart Health in African American Communities

Heart disease is the number one cause of death among African Americans. The rates of heart disease and high blood pressure are 8 to 15 percent higher in African Americans than in whites.1,2

Heart health information and information on access to care are greatly needed in many African American communities. Community health workers (CHWs) can meet that need.

CHWs in African American communities may be public housing residents, church leaders, or simply natural leaders and helpers. They provide meaningful health information and support, and they connect residents to services.

When trained, CHWs working as community educators and in clinical teams can help underserved African Americans:

  • Get the information they need to manage chronic conditions.3
  • Make health behavior changes and learn more about health.4
  • Obtain better access to health services.5

Read on to find out how CHW heart health programs were implemented targeting African Americans:

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1 Heron, M. (2011). Deaths: Leading causes for 2007. National Vital Statistics Report, 59 (8).

2 Roger, V. L., Go, A. S., Lloyd-Jones, D. M., Adams, R. J., Berry, J. D., Brown, T. M.,…Wylie-Rosett, J. (2011). Heart disease and stroke statistics 2011 update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123, e18-e209.

3 Butz, A. M., Malveaux, F. J., Eggleston, P., Thompson, L., Schneider, S., Weeks, K.,…Rand, C. S. (1994). Use of community health workers with inner-city children who have asthma. Clinical Pediatrics, 33(3), 135-141

4 Spencer, M. S., Rosland, A., Kieffer, E. C., Sinco, B. R., Valerio, M., Palmisano, G.,…Heisler, M. (2011). Effectiveness of a community health worker intervention among African American and Latino adults with type 2 diabetes: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Public Health, 101(12), 2253-2260.

5 Andrews, J. O., Felton, G., Wewers, M. E., & Heath, J. (2004). Use of community health workers in research with ethnic minority women. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 36(4), 358-365.

Last Updated: June 2014