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Allegheny General Hospital Embarks on Landmark Study of Heart Disease in African American Community

 

Allegheny General Hospital is embarking on a new study to gain a better understanding of why African Americans in the Pittsburgh region tend to have a higher incidence of heart attack, heart failure and stroke than the national average.

ESCADAA (the Epidemiological Study of Cardiovascular Risk in Urban African Americans) will examine the prevalence of nine modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the African American population: abnormal lipids, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, psychosocial factors, consumption of fruits, vegetables and alcohol and lack of regular physical activity.

Investigators will then look for correlations between those risk factors, social factors and coronary artery calcification (CAC), one measure of atherosclerotic heart disease.

“African Americans in Allegheny County have higher death rates from heart disease than those in the rest of the state and other ethnic groups,” said Indu Poornima, MD, director of the Women's Heart Center at Allegheny General Hospital.

“We want to define the true prevalence of risk factors in our local population and see how those risk factors are influenced by socioeconomic factors such as income, education and health insurance coverage.”

Study coordinators plan to enroll 250 African Americans between age 40 and 70. Participants must have no prior history of heart attack, congestive heart failure or stroke.

Those who take part in the study will complete a questionnaire, have a physical exam by a physician, undergo laboratory testing including assessments of fasting blood sugar, high-sensitivity CRP (a measure of inflammation, cholesterol and triglyceride levels), and have a noncontrast CT scan of the heart to check for calcium build-up in the arteries.

Early medical intervention is the best weapon against heart disease. ESCADAA was designed to yield data which may help identify interventions that can be used to improve the risk profile in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities, Dr. Poornima said. The study is funded by the Pittsburgh Foundation.

To learn more about ESCADAA, please call 412-359-3802.

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