Building a gateway to promote cardiovascular health research in African-American communities: Lessons and findings from the field

Diane M. Becker, Melvin B. Tuggle, Marshall F. Prentice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


African American communities traditionally mistrust academic research. This forms a significant barrier to understanding cardiovascular risk factors in this population, which bears an excess risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. A clergy/academic partnership was established to build a gateway for salient research and for improving resources for reducing cardiovascular disease risk in the community. From this partnership emanated the African American Family Heart Study. People with a family history of premature coronary heart disease (CHD) have an increased risk for the disease-as high as 12 times that of the general population, if among siblings. Considerably less is known about the actual remediable risk factors in African American families with premature CHD. We initiated the Family Heart Study with a full characterization of 161 apparently healthy, unaffected 30- to 59-year-old African Americans whose siblings were 85 African American index cases with documented premature CHD prior to 60 years of age. We compared their risk factor values to population reference norms obtained in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for cigarette smoking. Only 13% of African American male siblings and 14% of female siblings from these families were without any major remediable risk factors. The fact that so many siblings were at extremely high risk calls into question the current applications by provider systems of national guidelines in high-risk African American families. This is an easily identifiable population that would be likely to benefit greatly from targeted screening and culturally sensitive and appropriate treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-293
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • Coronary disease
  • Family Heart Study
  • Prevention
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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