Photo of two African American women smiling.
Healthy Hearts Network Partner Spotlight

Association of Black Cardiologists: Addressing Heart Health Disparities in African American Communities


The mission of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc. (ABC) is to promote the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, in Blacks and other minorities and to achieve health equity for all through the elimination of disparities. ABC is dedicated to ensuring exemplary health care is accessible and affordable to all, lowering the high rate of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, in minority populations, and advocating for diversity in health care. To learn more about the importance of cardiovascular health and health disparities in African American communities, The Heart Truth® connected with Dr. Jayne Morgan, ABC’s Communications Committee Co-chair. 

Why is heart health important to address in African American communities?  Photo of a group of five African Americans standing in front of a canopy at an outdoor event.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in all communities, but it is particularly devastating in the African American community. The African American community leads all ethnic groups in death rates due to heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and other factors in heart health, and the numbers in the African American community are not improving, especially as it relates to Black maternal heart health. The CDC estimates that 80% of Black maternal deaths are preventable. 

But the good news is that these deaths from heart disease are preventable with ongoing education and awareness in communities of color, which is the mission of the ABC. Mistrust, lack of connection with clinical trials, obesity, diabetes, and lower economic and educational opportunities leads the list of areas where we believe we can make significant impact and not only move the needle, but significantly drive improved outcomes within our communities.

How does the ABC work to improve heart health outcomes?
The ABC, founded nearly 50 years ago, believes that good health is the cornerstone of progress. That starts by addressing heart health disparities in communities of color and advocating for positive change. The ABC participates in clinical research, provider education, and training initiatives for future cardiologists, partners with key stakeholders, and engages with community members to amplify its mission and provide interventions that address health equity.

The ABC has positioned itself to work with communities, partners, and other stakeholders to take actions that actively address barriers to good heart health, including the social determinants of health.  We also work to recruit and encourage Black youth to enter the field of medicine, providing mentorship, programs, and modeling, to help manage the burden while acknowledging the expectations of medical school and residency training.  In this way, we continue to chip away at the dearth of Black doctors, especially cardiologists educated and trained to serve our communities.

What are three actions people can take to improve their heart health?
The top three actions that people can take to improve their heart health is to: 

  1. Make heart-healthy food choices, which includes foods with lower amounts of salt and fat 
  2. Move or exercise regularly
  3. Avoid smoking 

Additionally, regular contact with a healthcare provider to monitor your health status, including screening for high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, weight management, and staying connected to a robust social network are also important to good heart health. 

It is also a good idea to ensure you are getting plenty of sleep. In fact, emerging data shows the positive impact of good sleep hygiene on heart health, as well as the positive attributes of in-person human interaction.

What resources or programs do you have that promote heart health?
Currently, the ABC has several programs that promote heart health either directly or by addressing the social determinants of health. Directly, the ABC works with community members by hosting our Spirit of the Heart Program and by training individuals with our Community Health Advocate Training Program. We then work with these trained advocates to use resources developed by ABC cardiologists, which can be found on our website (, as well as resources from partners, such as the With Every Heartbeat Is Life: Community Health Worker Resources for African Americans from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Furthermore, our On The Beat with ABC social media programming begins in February, introducing the community to Cardiologists who look like them, and reflect their history and culture.

Can you share any activities you have planned for American Heart Month and/or National Wear Red Day® 2024?
The ABC is excited about working with several of our CHA partners to assist them to spread the work of good heart health in their local communities.

We also have an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about the importance of Black women’s health along with partners on our “We are the FACES of Black Maternal Health” throughout the month of February.

What have been some benefits of the partnership between the ABC and The Heart Truth?
The partnership between the ABC and The Heart Truth program has been extremely important to the ABC to raise awareness about the disparities that the African American community deals with as well as developing strategies and partnerships to address the root cause of these disparities. 

The NHLBI and the ABC worked together to develop the With Every Heartbeat Is Life: Community Health Worker Resources for African Americans in the early 2000s and the ABC has been using the materials from the very start to train Community Health Advocates. The ABC has trained hundreds of Community Health Advocates since 2007, and the partnership with the NHLBI and The Heart Truth continues to allow us to find strategies and create resources to address heart health disparities in the African American community.

Are there resources from NHLBI or The Heart Truth that you have found useful and have shared in your education and outreach efforts?
ABC relies on the With Every Heartbeat Is Life: Community Health Worker Resources for African Americans for our Community Health Advocate Training Program. We train community members using the With Every Heartbeat Is Life manual, and distribute the other resources for African Americans, which can be found on the NHLBI website. The On the Move to Better Heart Health for African Americans and the Heart-Healthy Home Cooking African American Style Recipe Book are resources from The Heart Truth that help to make our program successful. We also find the partnership meetings with The Heart Truth, in which other organizations and government partners meet to share activities, to be very helpful to find ways to partner and avoid duplication of efforts.

Links to additional resources