Mount Sinai study: Young Black adults at higher risk for plaque buildup in arteries
A study from the Mount Sinai Health System found that young Black adults are more likely to have a potentially life-threatening condition affecting the heart than young Hispanic adults.
Dorothy Grant is a mother of two living in Harlem, where Mount Sinai's study focused on a multi-ethnic, underserved community. The study found young Black adults are two times more likely to develop atherosclerosis than young Hispanic adults.
“My first reaction is that it's sad. If someone would have taught them how to eat right and exercise, I wouldn't think it'd be a problem,” Grant says.
Atherosclerosis is a plaque buildup in the arteries that could lead to blockages. While diet is one contributing factor, Dr. Valentin Fuster, the director of Mount Sinai Heart, says there are many others.
“We describe seven risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Two are mechanical -- obesity and high blood pressure -- two are chemical, high cholesterol and high glucose, and three are behavioral -- smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet,” Fuster says. “In the Black population, this is magnified, not only because they have more risk factors than Hispanic population, but there is something else in the Black population that makes them have more disease, and we have to investigate what this is.”
Grant says she changed her diet years ago while also steering her kids to eat healthy. Grant says she's already seen results from the change.
Fuster says it’s important to take action and make the choice to improve one’s health.
“You have to decide if being healthy is important to you, decide if it's a priority. If you can't decide, I can give you all the lessons in the world, I will not achieve anything,” he says.
Fuster says the study isn’t over and the investigation is continuing around the world. Around 12,000 young people in Europe, South America and in the US are being studied over decades in search of more answers that might lead to better health.