Top health risks for the African American community


There are several common health issues that place the population at risk of increased injury and early death. We as a population always wonder how to protect ourselves from these common health issues.

Good health references good quality of life. It has been shown in multiple studies that risk-factor reduction is a certain method we use for defense against injury and poor health. Risk-factor reduction requires good input from both the patient and healthcare providers.

Some of the most common health risks that affect are diabetes mellitus; cardiovascular-related disease; hypertension and arteriosclerotic heart disease; elevated cholesterol and strokes; and prostate, breast, colon and cervical cancer.



Diabetes mellitus is a very common disorder that causes great detriment particularly in the African American community. Controlling your diabetes is a risk-factor reduction measure. Diabetics should always be aware of hemoglobin A1C (Hg A1C). If you are diabetic, you want this number to be close to seven as possible.

This is not an arbitrary number. Studies show that controlling this number is related to safeness (preventing low blood sugar) and reduces damage to eyes, heart, kidney and kidney’s renal failure and decrease the chances of heart attacks and strokes. Controlling this number is done through healthy eating, exercising and compliance with medications.

Healthy eating may require input and guidance from a good nutritionist, which may warrant several visits. Safe exercising may warrant input from a professional exercise instructor or exercise therapist. You should also visit your healthcare provider as often as needed to manage medications.


High blood pressure

Cardiovascular-related disease is widespread and also related to diabetes. Diabetes is often seen with cardiovascular diseases and when controlled improves outcome.

Hypertension is commonly associated with cardiovascular disease. Good control is needed for a good outcome. Similar to diabetes, this requires healthy eating, exercise, weight reduction and compliance with medications. It is very important for your healthcare provider to be available to help you until good control has been obtained.


High cholesterol 

Hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol) is very critical when it comes to positive outcomes from heart disease. This again can be controlled with diet, exercise and provider input. Strokes are very common in most populations, and is related to diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and heart disease. When all are controlled, there is noted reduction in stroke incidents.



Some of the most common malignancies we find today include early prostate, breast, colon and cervical cancer. I don’t think we can prevent these disorders, but it is ultimately important to detect them at the earliest time possible. With early detection people have good quality of life and often longer lives.

Early cancer detection requires meeting all recommended screenings and again input and treatment from a healthcare provider along with a team of healthcare professionals.

Improved life quality and longevity requires lifestyle modifications and input from healthcare professionals. Dedication to educating the population as to the risk factors involved and promotion of quality healthcare for the patients from the professionals will all assist in reducing early deaths in our community.


Dr. Fred Lewis is an internal medicine physician at Open Cities Health Center, Inc.