Health is Wealth: 5 Deadly Health Issues for African Americans

Health is Wealth: 5 Deadly Health Issues for African Americans

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane,” Martin Luther King, Jr. once said.

Did you know African Americans face-alarming differences in health compared to all other racial and ethnic groups? Among African Americans, factors contributing to poor health outcomes, as reported by the CDC, include lack of access to health care, discrimination, cultural, linguistic and literacy barriers.

[Related: Event Encourages Black Women to Seek Help for Mental Health Issues]

April is National Minority Health Month. Although our health should be top of mind all year round, this is a good opportunity to start a conversation that matters. Whether it’s encouraging your loved ones to get tested for Cancer–the leading causes of death amongst African Americans, or having a discussion with your doctor about weight management, a simple conversation can change a life.

In light of minority health month, the Centers for Disease Control compiled a list on the disparities in health between African Americans and other ethnic populations. Here are five alarming facts about the leading causes of death for African Americans:

  1. Heart disease: Is the leading cause of death for African Americans primarily due to lifestyle, diet, and the incidence of other co-morbities (e.g., obesity, smoking, diet, excessive alcohol). To learn more about the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack, check out this heart disease fact sheet.
  2. Cancer: When accounting for all cancers combined, incidence rates are highest among black (554.5), followed by white (499.7), Hispanic* (393.5), Asian/Pacific Islander (310.1), and American Indian/Alaska Native (293.5) men. Specifically as it relates to breast cancer, Black women have the highest death rates of all racial and ethnic groups and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. African American women are diagnosed with lower rates of breast cancer, however they have higher rates of mortality due to breast cancer. The reasons for this difference result from many factors including having more aggressive cancers and fewer social and economic resources. Visit the CDC to learn more.
  3. Stroke: The fifth leading cause of death for Americans, but the risk of having a stroke varies with race and ethnicity. Risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for blacks than for whites, and blacks are more likely to die following a stroke than are whites. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of a stroke visit
  4. Diabetes: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, gestational diabetes occurs more frequently in African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians than in other groups. To learn more information about diabetes and tips to avoid visit the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.
  5. Unintentional Injuries:The leading cause of death in the United States for persons aged 1—19 years and the fifth leading cause of death for African Americans. Visit to learn more about industry prevention and control.

Read more about the 10 leading causes of death for African Americans at