Cardiovascular disease and health disparities

Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH

In late 2020, COVID-19 surpassed cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death in the United States (https://bit.ly/35BbNNT). However, cardiovascular disease held that top spot for the greater part of the last century. Despite COVID-19’s rampage, cardiovascular disease remains an enormous health problem in the country. Of the millions of people suffering from this disease, a disproportionate number of them are Black and Brown people.

According to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, African Americans were 20% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Latino/Hispanic whites. Black and Brown people also have disproportionately high rates for the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease—high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. The inevitable question is why these health disparities exist.

Researchers like Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine (Division of General Internal Medicine), University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, are


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