HEART RHYTHM SOCIETY AND ASSOCIATION OF BLACK CARDIOLOGISTS LAUNCH 10-CITY "ARREST THE RISK" INITIATIVE TO EDUCATE AFRICAN AMERICANS ABOUT DEADLY IMPACT OF SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST
Local Outreach in At-Risk Communities Aims to Raise Awareness of SCA and Help Prevent Heart Condition Disproportionately Impacting African Americans
Washington, D.C. – Feb. 5, 2013 – During February Heart Health Month, the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) and the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) are urging consumers, particularly African Americans, to "Arrest The Risk." Responsible for more than 350,000 U.S. deaths each year, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Approximately 95 percent of SCA cases result in death; however, it is proven most deadly in African Americans. To help reduce the incidence of SCA among African Americans, HRS and ABC are announcing a 10-city initiative to educate at-risk communities and provide resources regarding risk factors and recommended treatments to prevent SCA.
HRS and ABC are working with healthcare providers and African American community leaders in 10 cities with at-risk populations including Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Jackson, Miss.; Nashville, Tenn.; Detroit; New Orleans and Oakland, Calif.
As a part of this initiative, HRS has developed an SCA risk assessment tool, available at www.ArrestTheRisk.org. The tool provides a means for patients to ask self-reflective questions about personal and family health issues, as well as start a dialogue with a physician about SCA risks. Physicians may refer patients to specialists, including electrophysiologists, for further evaluation and to discuss prevention options.
"Lack of knowledge and access to appropriate treatment are two of the biggest factors leading to the deadly impact of SCA among African Americans. When it comes to SCA, early intervention can literally save lives," said Dr. Kevin L. Thomas, MD, F.A.C.C. Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Division of Cardiovascular Disease, Duke University Medical Center. "It’s critical to talk to your doctor about SCA risk factors including your family’s heart health history. February as Heart Health Month is a good reminder to make an appointment with your doctor to examine your risk and discuss preventative treatment options."
A national survey released in October by HRS indicates lack of awareness and treatment of SCA puts African Americans at greater risk of death from the condition. Ninety-percent of African Americans say their doctor has never talked to them about SCA. In addition, though treatment guidelines recommend implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) as the standard of care for patients at risk for SCA, studies show that the use of these devices and other innovative cardiovascular technologies are less common among African Americans. As a result, a large percentage of high-risk patients are not receiving these treatments, leading to a greater likelihood of death.
"Sudden cardiac arrest is one of many heart-related conditions that disproportionately impacts African Americans," said Ola Akinboboye, MD, MPH, MBA, President, ABC. "Since SCA can happen to people of all ages and health conditions, campaigns like "Arrest the Risk" serve to educate and remind all of us about the importance of being an informed patient. There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of experiencing SCA. Don’t wait – talk to your doctor."
Launched in October 2012, the "Arrest the Risk" campaign aims to reduce the inequalities in SCA incidents amongst African Americans and increase the dialogue between patients and physicians. The initiative is designed to overcome the barriers to proper diagnosis and treatment of SCA through educational resources, an SCA risk assessment available on ArrestTheRisk.org, as well as a powerful public service announcement featuring Shaun Robinson, Emmy-award winning journalist and weekend co-anchor and correspondent for "Access Hollywood."