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New research led by George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services faculty Dr. Michelle Williams found that although African American breast cancer survivors have a higher prevalence of CVD risk factors, their knowledge about CVD is low.
African American breast cancer survivors are four times more likely to die from breast cancer than women of all other races and ethnicities, and they have a disproportionately high rate of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD).
New research led by George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services faculty Dr. Michelle Williams assessed African American breast cancer survivors’ risk factors and knowledge about CVD in the Deep South, where health disparities between African American women and women of other races is even larger. They found that although African American breast cancer survivors have a higher prevalence of CVD risk factors, their knowledge about CVD is low.
The study was published in the Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice in February.
Specifically, participants scored low on knowledge about heart attack symptoms and CVD-related medical information. Participants with healthier diets and higher levels of education had higher levels of CVD knowledge.
“We know that several CVD risk factors, such as hypertension and obesity, can be modified through lifestyle behavior changes,” adds Williams. “This is promising, but breast cancer survivors must be better informed about CVD risk by their health care providers.”
Their study included surveys of 70 breast cancer survivors who identified as African American or Black in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Georgia.
“Our findings highlight the importance of informing African American breast cancer survivors about their increased risk for co-morbidities such as CVD and providing them with access to culturally appropriate CVD risk reduction interventions aimed at a variety of education levels,” explains Williams.
Williams and colleagues are currently conducting the next phase of the study, which will provide more in-depth information about CVD risk factors among African American breast cancer survivors.
This research was supported by a grant from the Mississippi Center for Clinical and Translational Research to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (Grant Number U54 GM115428).
About George Mason University
George Mason University is Virginia's largest and most diverse public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. For more information, visit https://www2.gmu.edu/.
About the College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services prepares students to become leaders and shape the public's health through academic excellence, research of consequence, community outreach, and interprofessional clinical practice. George Mason is the fastest-growing Research I institution in the country. The College enrolls more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,370 graduate students in its nationally-recognized offerings, including: 5 undergraduate degrees, 13 graduate degrees, and 7 certificate programs. The college is transitioning to a college of public health in the near future. For more information, visit https://chhs.gmu.edu/.