Health Tips for African Americans – East Alabama Medical Center

From addressing unique health concerns to emphasizing preventive care, experts from East Alabama Health offer practical advice to promote healthier lifestyles within the African American community.
Kendale Dixon, M.D. is a hospitalist at East Alabama Medical Center.
Kendale Dixon, M.D.
Hospitalist
In the African American community, we see that there are higher rates for diseases such as diabetes, HTN and stroke. We also see that we are much more likely to die from complications of these diseases. The answer to why this is a complex one and centers around access to healthcare, health literacy, diet and genetics among other things. I think for us to improve outcomes we must attempt to mitigate as many of these as possible. One big step would be to make regular appointments to see a primary care provider in order to control these disease processes before they reach a more advanced stage. 
As we talked about in question one the conditions that predominantly affect the African American community that I see are diabetes, HTN, stroke and heart disease. The best steps to prevent this is to first realize that we are at an increased risk of these conditions and secondly to change out dietary habits, exercise more frequently and schedule regular follow ups with a primary care provider in the outpatient setting. 
My recommendations would fall in line with the USPTF recommendations on screening including yearly blood pressure screening beginning at 18, colonoscopy beginning at age 45 and cholesterol screening around age 20.
Randy Hooks, Pharmacy Resident at East Alabama Medical Center.
Randy Hooks, Pharm.D.
Pharmacy Resident
African Americans are disproportionately affected by heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Preventive health screenings can improve health outcomes and overall quality of life. Screenings can lead to early recognition of chronic diseases, which in turn can produce better control and management of one’s health through reduction in long-term complications. Vaccines are another form of preventive health that can benefit everyone.  Vaccines protect you and those around you from diseases that can cause serious illness. There are many ways to get health care screenings and vaccinations done. Local pharmacies offer a wide range of vaccines and screenings that can be beneficial to health outcomes. Physical activity and diet can also be a great way to prevent and improve chronic diseases. Health experts recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity divided to your liking for health improvement outcomes.  Along with exercise, developing more nutritious eating habits can impact your health in many positive ways.
Sutricia Johnson, director of Case Management at East Alabama Health.
Sutricia Johnson, RN, MBA
Director, Case Management
Health disparities within the African American community can include higher rates of chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and certain cancers. Individuals can navigate these challenges by prioritizing preventive care, accessing healthcare resources and advocating for equitable healthcare policies. Regular check-ups, fostering open communication with healthcare providers, a healthy lifestyle and community support can contribute to better outcomes. Also, addressing social determinants of health, such as access to nutritious food and safe environments can help.
Health conditions such as such as sickle cell anemia, lupus, and prostate cancer disproportionately  affect African Americans. To prevent or manage these conditions, individuals can prioritize regular health check-ups, adopt a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise, and stay informed about family medical history. Early detection and proactive management are key in addressing these health concerns.
Community engagement can positively impact the health of African Americans in several ways. It can increase access to healthcare services, promote health education and awareness, provide social support networks, address systemic health disparities and empower individuals to advocate for their own health needs. By fostering a sense of belonging and solidarity within the community, engagement efforts can encourage healthier behaviors and lifestyles while also addressing the root causes of health inequities.

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