Featuring: Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc
Although COVID-19 doesn't necessarily discriminate, some communities are far more susceptible to the disease. People who are black or African-American are more likely to contract the virus - and to die from it. Clyde Yancy, MD, discusses reasons for these outcomes and the need to fully address health care disparities in America.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clyde Yancy, MD, and his colleagues at Northwestern observed data from China and Europe indicating that those with COVID-19 requiring mechanical ventilation, needing renal replacement therapy or dialysis, and ultimately dying from the disease were those with preexisting hypertension, diabetes or already established cardiovascular disease.
Many of the underrepresented communities in our country, particularly the African-American community, fit that profile. In the weeks that followed the initial outbreak in the U.S., Chicago, New Orleans and Detroit began sharing public health statistics showing that African-Americans were getting sick with the disease and dying at a much higher rate than other populations.
"(In Chicago) 50 percent of the infections were impacting African-Americans and 70 percent of the deaths were in the African-American cohort compared to the representation of the population," Yancy says.
Native Americans and Latinx communities are also seeing these disparities. Yancy believes this phenomenon can be attributed to the preexisting health conditions and living circumstances in minority communities. Social distancing and strict hand hygiene can be difficult for many who cannot work from home, live in crowded conditions or may not have access to hand sanitizer and other supplies such as face masks.
He hopes this pandemic can be a pivot point for the nation to finally address these disparities and strive for health equity.
Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc is a cardiologist and chief of the division of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and a past president of the American Heart Association.
Dr. Yancy has received recognition for clinical and research expertise in the field of heart failure and has additional interests in cardiomyopathy, heart valve diseases, hypertension, and prevention. He is also associate director of Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, and is the Magerstadt Professor of Medicine, professor of medical social sciences, and vice-dean of diversity and inclusion at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
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