The Urgent Necessity for Equitable Health
Across metro Atlanta, those living with cardiovascular disease regularly face obstacles to care. Perhaps they can’t afford treatment and must choose between rent and their hypertension medications. Perhaps they can’t understand their doctor’s instructions due to a language barrier, ineffective communication or they are hard of hearing. Or perhaps their doctor’s instructions run counter to cultural beliefs or norms.
Today, in Fulton County, thousands have already been diagnosed with heart disease, sadly even more are at risk. That’s because almost 30.1% of the county’s population have high blood pressure, another 63.8% are obese and 13.4% are smokers.
The American Heart Association wants our neighbors across the metro area to know that a key to heart health is access to equitable health. Consider the facts:
- 1 in 3 people suffer from cardiovascular disease, which is about 2 million people in the metro Atlanta area. That’s enough to fill the Atlanta Braves Stadium 49 times. Of the 2 million people affected, 15% are White, 11% are Black, 3.6% are Hispanic or Latino and 2% are Asian.
- In Atlanta alone, more than 35 communities are classified as food deserts: creating barriers to affordable and nutritious food for many, especially since the pandemic. Those barriers consist of the lack of transportation or relying on public transportation to grocery shop or simply in an area in which no healthy food options are available. Food deserts are especially a burden to low-income communities. Nearly 31 percent of low-income Georgia residents also have low food access.
- Approximately 1 in 3 adults in the metro Atlanta area have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke.
- Over 17% of high school students in Georgia currently smoke e-cigarettes which possess very harmful chemicals and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases not just for those that smoke, but for those who are exposed to secondhand smoke as well.
- Black and Hispanic/Latino adults are 41% less likely to receive CPR in public. Counties located in the south, those with higher proportions of rural areas, Black and Hispanic residents, and those with lower median household incomes all have lower rates of CPR training than other communities.
- Atlanta’s walkability score is 48/100, meaning most city routes prevent safe outdoor physical activity, especially in low-income communities.
Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined) causes over 2,300 deaths per day, one person dies every 34 seconds. Obesity in both youth and adults is at an all-time high, children as young as two years old are being diagnosed and people just ZIP codes apart can live 25 years less than their neighbors because of disparities in health.
The American Heart Association’s commitment to addressing drivers of health disparities, including the social determinants of health, structural racism and rural health inequities, is vital to achieve equitable health and well-being for all. Through multiple strategies we are creating impact informed by our community’s needs and working toward progress with our 2024 Impact Goal, that every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life. As champions for health equity, by 2024, the American Heart Association will advance cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.
We are ensuring all Atlantans have an equal chance of living a longer, healthier life – no matter their ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status or education level. From working with local hospitals to ensure quality access to healthcare to reducing blood pressure to ending tobacco and vaping use to investing in lifesaving research and resources to ensuring everyone has access to healthy foods, the AHA is working to improve and save lives every day.
Together, we can improve the lives of all, supporting data driven community-based solutions that reduce the social and economic barriers to health equity that disproportionately cause some Atlantans to live shorter and unhealthier lives. The need is great, the work of the American Heart Association across metro Atlanta is urgent because losing one person to heart disease is too many. Join us, stand with us and walk alongside us.
For more information on how you can join the fight against heart disease and stroke, visit www.heart.org/atlanta.
This is sponsored content.