A Spotlight on Healthcare Disparities in African American Communities
Even with promising interventions such as the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare equality in the U.S. seems like a distant goal. African Americans are still more likely to be burdened with chronic diseases and die prematurely than their white counterparts, thanks to the various healthcare disparities.
Definitely, healthcare inequality isn't a fight to give up on. Yet, we must first understand the factors that continue to widen the gap in healthcare. Below, we shed light on the commonest forms of healthcare disparities that remain a thorn in the flesh of African American communities.
Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates
While Black and African Americans in the U.S. live for about 74.9 years, the life expectancy of their white counterparts stands at about 78.5. In truth, this gap has shrunk over the past three decades. However, the U.S. life expectancy plunged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and African Americans saw among the highest drops (2.9 years). While this steep decline was fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, it is a reminder of how African American communities are affected by health disparities.
According to data by the CDC, Black and African American infants are twice as likely to die as white infants. There are 10.8 infant deaths for every 1,000 African American infants and 4.6 deaths for every 1,000 white infants born in the U.S. While it can be argued that the causes of infant mortality are the same for all races, factors like injuries and maternal pregnancy complications among African American mothers may be prevented with access to quality healthcare.
Burden of Disease: Chronic Conditions and Amputation Rates
Studies show that African American adults are more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic disease at an advanced level and also develop multimorbidity earlier in life compared to their white counterparts. Particularly, Black adults are disproportionately affected by one or more somatic chronic diseases, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and lung disease.
Risk factors of chronic disease such as obesity are also more prevalent in Black communities in the U.S. According to the CDC, African American women are the most affected by obesity or being overweight of all ethnic groups in the country. Such are risk factors for more serious conditions such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is among the leading causes of lower limb amputation among older adults. In the U.S., major lower limb amputation among African American patients occurs two or three times more frequently than in white patients.
It is possible to prevent the progression of most chronic diseases to the advanced level with early diagnosis and treatment. However, that isn’t always the case for Black and African American patients, mainly, due to their low-income levels and lack of access to quality healthcare. In addition to curtailing mobility and reducing the quality of life, lower limb amputations significantly decrease the life expectancy of African American adults.
Health insurance coverage is another area where healthcare disparities in the U.S. are apparent. A 2019 report by the CDC indicated that about 14.3% of African Americans were uninsured, compared to 10.2% of white adults. Further, 3.3% of African American children under the age of 18 didn’t have health insurance coverage.
The enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) saw more than 20 million U.S. residents gain health coverage, with 2.8 million of them being African American. Yet, this ethnic group is still more likely to be uninsured compared to white Americans.
While the average American household spends about 11% of its income on healthcare premiums and other related healthcare costs, this number approaches 20% for African American families. Being among the most economically disadvantaged groups in the country, it is clear why many African American households are still uninsured.
Mental Health Among African Americans
Studies have consistently shown that racism does more than just impact social stratification – it negatively affects the mental and physical health of African Americans as well. During the early stages of their lives, Black and African Americans are exposed to adverse conditions like unemployment, poverty, lack of access to health care, poor housing, and low-quality education. While the effects are not always immediate, these conditions may culminate in poor mental health.
African Americans are 20% more likely to suffer psychological distress and 50% less likely to receive appropriate counseling or mental health attention. Suicide rates among African American population have also been on the rise, with the most recent spike being registered during the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s worse, mental health issues among African American communities may not be adequately addressed due to the shortage of mental health care providers.
Access to Quality Healthcare
African American communities are mostly medically underserved. Residential segregation also means that the majority of Black and African American areas are more likely to have fewer hospitals and other health care providers. In cases where healthcare providers are located within these areas, their services tend to be lower-quality.
Due to the lack of primary healthcare providers, many African American communities are served by community health centers, emergency rooms, and community-based providers. While traveling to other geographic areas for better healthcare is an option, African Americans may have a challenge due to low incomes.
Leveraging Advanced Technology for Amputation Prevention
To bring down the sky-high rates of lower extremity amputation, The Wound Docs is bringing together Black healthcare professionals in the country, including podiatrists, wound care specialists, and vascular surgeons. The Wound Docs is leveraging the power of AI and Advanced Biologics (skin substitutes) to achieve better clinical outcomes in wound care among African American patients.
Exercise Routines for Health and Fitness: Moderate and High-intensity Workouts
There are different types of exercises; you get better results when you choose a combination of activities that cater to your needs. Research shows that you can gain tremendous benefits by doing a mix of four types of exercise: endurance activities, strength training.
Foam Dressings: Benefits And Applications
Non-adhesive foam dressings require the use of an additional secondary dressing to be secured in position. In general, thin foam dressings have an adhesive wound contact layer.
Hydrogel Wound Dressings: Benefits And Applications
Hydrogel wound dressings belong to the class of modern wound dressings that actively stimulate the wound healing process. They are composed of synthetic polymers with a high water content formed in the shape of sheets, amorphous gels, and foams.
Alginate Wound Dressings: Benefits And Applications
In the United States, approximately 6 million people are affected by chronic wounds. The number is only expected to increase with the rise in the elderly population. Wound dressings form an essential component of wound care.
How Obesity and Overweight Affects Wound Healing
Obesity and excessive weight are conditions that continue to disproportionately affect Black and African American people in the United States.
Understanding and Tackling Hypertension in African American Communities
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is more prevalent in African American communities than in other racial groups in the United States. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicated that about 5 in 10 non-Hispanic Black adults are hypertensive.
Understanding the Risk Factors for Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers, also called bedsores or decubitus ulcers, are areas of localized damage to the skin and underlying tissue. They result from unrelieved pressure on the skin, friction, shear, or a combination of these.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Amputation Prevention
With the various technological advancements, amputation prevention through proper wound care is an attractive area for Artificial Intelligence (AI). In 2002, the whole world was in awe when Google brain, an Artificial Intelligence research team, could find a cat in a YouTube video.
The Role of Advanced Biologics (Skin Substitutes) in Wound Healing
For a long time now, limb amputation has affected the mobility of African Americans living with chronic diseases. Worse still, studies have shown that limb amputation among diabetes
Know Better, Do Better: Adopting Healthy Lifestyles for Amputation Prevention
Black Americans are twice as likely to develop pulmonary artery disease (PAD) – a leading cause of lower limb amputation – as any other race.
Tackling the Education Gap: Encouraging Medical Careers Among Black Students
Black and African American doctors make up 5% of all active physicians in the country – a mere 45,534 healthcare professionals. With the African American population at about 46.9 million, it is clear why Black communities are underserved.
The Amputation Epidemic in Black America: What Everyone Needs to Know
Peer-reviewed studies have revealed that black patients are three times more likely to lose limbs than the national average. In black populated areas with little or no access to quality healthcare...
Why Are Black People Losing Limbs More Often?
Now more than ever, Blacks and African Americans are losing lower extremity limbs. In recent years, there has been a stark difference in the amputation rates in Black and white communities.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Its Impact On Wound Care
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is the narrowing of the arteries in the arms, legs, and internal organs. It’s often caused by atherosclerosis which is the buildup of fat and cholesterol – called plaque – in the arteries.
Promoting Physical Exercise and Mobility in African American Communities
Inadequate physical inactivity has increasingly been recognized as a leading cause of mobility problems and early mortality in the world.
A Spotlight on Healthcare Disparities in African American Communities
Even with promising interventions such as the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare equality in the U.S. seems like a distant goal. African Americans are still more likely to be burdened with chronic diseases
Avenues for Promoting Health Awareness in African Communities
Disparities in healthcare remain a serious problem in African American communities. The history of slavery and other social determinants like systemic racism and access to healthy foods undoubtedly underlie the inexcusably poor state of African American health.
The State of Black Health in America
Over 150 years from the abolishment of slavery, healthcare in America is stilled marred by systemic racial discrimination and inequality. According to the CDC, 20.2 percent of black American adults are living in fair or poor health. This is a visibly higher population compared to white, non-Hispanic (14.1 percent).
Black Nutrition: Are You Eating The Right Diet?
Blacks have dietary preferences born from cultural influence. A study conducted on 7,000 men and women over 45 years living across the U.S. found that Black participants were more likely to eat a diet comprising highly processed foods compared to their White counterparts. Further, 46% of Blacks and 33% of Whites developed hypertension, with diet being the reason for much of the disparity.
Debridement: A Critical Component of Wound Treatment
Debridement is a part of the standard DIME technique for wound bed preparation in chronic wounds.
What is Negative Pressure Wound Therapy and How Does it Benefit Patients?
Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) aims to facilitate wound healing by modifying the pressure over a wound surface.
The Benefits of Telemedicine To Wound Care
Telemedicine is particularly beneficial in long-term care facilities where a significant number of Americans living with chronic conditions such as non-healing wounds reside.
Why are Some Wounds Slow To Heal?
Chronic slow-healing wounds are those that fail to progress through a timely and predictable sequence of repair.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Wound Therapy and How Does it Benefit Patients?
Chronic non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers and venous insufficiency ulcers remain in the inflammatory state despite adequate management, prolonging wound healing, and adversely affecting the quality of life of patients.
Diagnosis and Management of Pressure Ulcers
Leading research estimates a prevalence of up to 27% of pressure ulcers in patients living at long-term care facilities. Elderly patients (above 70 years of age), obese patients, patients with limited mobility, and those with underlying medical conditions e.g., peripheral arterial disease, and multiple sclerosis are the most at risk of developing pressure ulcers.
Compression Therapy for Wound Management
For patients living with chronic wounds such as venous ulcers, compression therapy can help to ease symptoms and aid wound healing.
Democratizing Wound Care in Hospice Care Facilities
Hospice care facilities provide care for the terminally ill, including patients battling late-stage cancer, heart disease, and kidney failure, as well as those living with chronic non-healing wounds.
Dealing With Diabetic Foot Ulcers During The Pandemic
People living with diabetes represent a subset of individuals with special health needs due to the nature of the disease.
What Clinicians Need To Know About Wound Care Dressings
To healthcare experts, choosing the right dressing is critical to improving wound healing outcomes in patients.